Thunder rolled. The lightning stuck. And I woke up 40 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Woke up widely with the same giddiness I feel upon waking on a party/big event day, or a painting/redecorating my house day, or new-project-that-you-know-is-going-to-rock-at-school day. Why — in the name of Garth Brooks— why?
I just wanted to sleep for 40 more minutes, but my brain turned on and immediately stopping, planting, and pointing like an Irish Setter, I was focused on the list I had made the previous day… You are about to read the best top 10 list (This is not the list that woke me up; keep reading.) of reasons why you should take part in any National Writing Project Invitational Institute. (Find one here!)
The Chippewa River Writing Project will host an open institute from June 19-23 for any teachers in grades 6-12 who would like to learn how to implement the College-Ready Writers Program in their classes. The $100 registration fee includes three days with a continental breakfast and boxed lunch, as well as a copy of Joseph Harris’s book, Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts. All sessions will be facilitated by K-12 teacher consultants affiliated with the Chippewa River Writing Project. Learn more here.
The College-Ready Writers Program
In 2012, the National Writing Project was awarded an Investing in Innovation grant to provide professional development to teachers in rural schools in ten states. The PD was designed with an end in mind of improving students’ college- and career-ready writing. The initial launch of the program yielded significant improvements in student writing. In 2015, SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research center, reported that students in the districts where the College-Ready Writers Program had been implemented outperformed students in control districts on four attributes of their writing: content, structure, stance, and conventions. In 2016, then, the National Writing Project decided to scale up the College-Ready Writers Program to 50 new sites for the 2016-17 school year. The Chippewa River Writing Project was selected to be one of those sites.
Components of the College-Ready Writers Program
Routine Argument Writing
The College-Ready Writers Program is built upon some core principles and shifts in thinking about the teaching of argument writing. First, teachers are taught to meet students where they are in implementing routine argument writing activities that help students redefine argument and recognize the ways in which they encounter arguments every day. For example, an early lesson in routine argument writing asks students to record a daily agenda for themselves starting with when they awake and proceeding through all of the activities of their day. Students then look at their daily schedule and ask themselves where in the day they might find something to argue, coding those times with an A. Teachers model the process for students in their own daily schedule. Here is a portion of my daily schedule that I modeled for students on the document camera during this activity. Continue reading “The College-Ready Writers Program at the Chippewa River Writing Project”
This post is the first in a series about 2016-17 partnerships between the CRWP and various school administrators, community librarians, and other educational leaders.
Last January, the CRWP asked a hand-selected group of school administrators, community librarians, and other educational leaders the following questions:
Do you believe in the transformative power and importance of reading, writing, and digital literacy?
Do you see value in the National Writing Project network but have been unable to join because of time constraints associated with a four-week summer institute?
Is there an innovative educational initiative on your to-do list that you have been unable to complete (or even begin)?
Would you like to be a published author, with support from accessible and experienced, published teacher-scholars?
To each of these questions, Tinna Mills, who is the teen librarian at Veterans Memorial Library in Mt. Pleasant, answered yes, and now she’s partnering with the Chippewa River Writing Project to help her teens produce digital stories about their transforming experiences associated with teen services at the library. To learn about library teen services and the digital story initiative, keep reading …
For quite some time, Tinna had wanted to invite her teens to craft digital stories about teen services at the public library. Her thought was that these digital stories could be posted on the library webpage, the better to promote PR, market services, and extend outreach. In addition, she believed that the digital stories would provide data to measure the effectiveness of the teen services offered at the library by means of a new assessment tool—a topic addressed momentarily.
Andy Schoenborn reflects on student choice while relating it to our own experience as educators in his current role as MCTE past president, and he invites you to attend the 2016 conference. Register here.
As I sit to write, I look out my window while rain falls in steady drops to the earth. The dark green grass stands vibrant against the gray sky and the not-yet-chilled air smells fresh – clean. September is like Spring for teachers. We have become rejuvenated and refreshed by the summer and the worries of last school year are washed away. Teachers, like grass, cannot be fully refreshed by the summer rain alone. To become vibrant against the gray, we need to cultivate our own growth by breaking loose hardened clay and fertilizing our minds with a renewed vigor.
Our school districts understand this and help by beginning the year with professional development programs before the students arrive. It is a good start but, like our students, for growth to take root we, too, need individualized instruction.
If you are reading this post, you know this to be true because you are the master gardener of your learning. You take an active role in shaping your path of growth by reading educational blogs and professional journals. You stay connected with your favorite pages, hashtags, and writers on Facebook, Twitter, and podcasts. No doubt, you belong to organizations like the National Writing Project, the National Council of Teachers of English, the International Reading Association or any of their affiliates. Your thirst for knowledge and affirmation helps you to stay in the full bloom of a master teacher.
The other day, my daughter called and asked me about a recipe. We chatted about its origin, and recalled a funny story that went with it. Our lively conversation had stemmed from a simple question. Recently, I’ve been paying close attention to questions and their resulting conversations.
“Do you have an idea for your digital story?”
“How was your Fourth of July?”
“What’s the best way to get ketchup and red wine out of a table cloth? ”
“Who can help me with Weebly?”
“Could you look at this piece to tell me if the transitions work, and if the ending is strong enough?”
Each of these is a question I heard asked by someone during their time at the CRWP Summer Institute. Each of these led to discussions between two or more people. Sometimes the discussions were short, other times they were long, and a time or two the discussions were later revisited. Although it might appear that the conversations were casual, they were still interactions in which two or more people needed to communicate with others and needed to know what others knew in order to help their own learning or thinking.Continue reading “The Value of Talk”