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→
I was reminded again this past summer that Michigan is truly one of the most beautiful places on this planet …
At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, a unique opportunity was presented to my science colleague Jeremy Winsor and me to apply for a week-long science literacy professional development at the Central Michigan University Biological Center located on Beaver Island, Michigan. The event was led by the Center for Excellence in STEM Education and the Chippewa River Writing Project. Several schools from the middle of the state were represented by a team of teachers looking to improve the relationship between science and literacy within their school districts. It was a week promising instruction on how to implement reading and writing strategies into the already complex subject of science.
Fast forward several months to August, and my colleague and I were watching the waves crash on the side of the Beaver Island Ferry while we crossed Lake Michigan along with colleagues from other schools. Schools included: Fulton, Central Montcalm, St. Louis, Carlton, Saginaw Township, and Bridgeport. Though all of us had a basic idea of what we were about to do for the week, we weren’t prepared to begin what would be one of the best professional development experiences of our teaching careers.Continue reading The Beaver Island Institute 2016→
I shared my writing with my students and it was really powerful.
I know what you’re thinking:
Of course it was.
We all know this.
We know that we should write with our students, model for our students, share with our students.
But, I know that we don’t. Or, at least, I know that I don’t.
I have 5 preps. I have 150+ students. I am so far behind in grading, I would lose credit in my own class if I was one of my students.
When my students write, I am circling the room like a trapped bat, trying to simultaneously rescue introductory paragraphs from rhetorical question soft starts, shut down copied theses from Sparknotes, encourage students to find the balance between looking for their playlist and taking the entire class period to create their playlist, squelch the Snapchat selfie parade, and answer “how long does this have to be?” 14,535 times. When my students write, I am too busy desperately trying to do my job to write with them.
“I think you should see if the Writing Project is doing a Summer Institute this year,” my mentor teacher, Chanda Stafford, said to me during one of our many meetings last year. As a first year teacher, I had no idea what that meant, so I nodded, and absent-mindedly made a note of it on her enormous list of goals and tasks for me this year. A few days later, an email appeared in my inbox with the link to the Chippewa River Writing Project.
The next few months flew by in a flurry of drafting applications, preparation, and coaching. When the acceptance e-mail appeared in my inbox one morning, I felt a rush of emotions. I was mostly excited, but extremely nervous. I wasn’t sure what a newbie in this profession could really bring to the table, and at the end of my first year of teaching, I was feeling the PTSD blur that many veterans in the career warned me I would feel. Was I really ready to be a part of this professional organization?
After I completed the first day of the institute, I called my mentor and said,“These people are nuts! How in the world did you survive?” My head had been swirling with nightmares of the prodigious multileveled project portfolio, hours of research driven on the gallons of caffeine I’d consumed, and the stomach churning nausea that appeared every time I heard the words ‘teaching demonstration.’ I was a brand new teacher! I had nothing to contribute to a room full of veteran teachers! Even the other first year teachers had more teaching experience than me! Continue reading Growing as a Writer and as a Teacher of Writing→
As a second grade teacher, I always started out the year reading the book, Call Me Marianne by Jen Bryant. In this book, a young boy named Jonathan notices an eccentric woman, Marianne, dressed in black cape and tri-cornered felt hat, carrying a notebook, and studying a newspaper article written about the new lizard exhibit at the zoo. When he returns her lost hat, she is “scribbling” in her notebook at the Reptile House. Intrigued, he asks her if she is a scientist. She replies that she is a poet, “watching and noticing details that other people miss,” recording those details through sketches and phrases in her notebook. She hands Jonathan his own notebook so he can sketch, record, and write about details he notices that other people might miss. When the story ends, I take that moment to be like Marianne, passing out brand new writer’s notebooks for us to begin our noticing of daily details that others might not take note of: the smells from the cafeteria, the sounds on the playground or how body language reveals feelings. I teach mini lessons on where to find ideas for personal writing. When read alouds spark memories, we write about it in our writer’s notebooks. We discuss our favorite authors and what their inspiration might have been for their books so that we too might find writing inspiration from our lives.
A few days later, I hand out another new notebook and introduce reader’s notebooks. This is our spot to explore stories, informational articles, and our thinking about reading: a place where we draw and write about characters and their connection to other characters, text-to-text connections, responses to what we read, as well as a plethora of other entries. That is where the confusion begins. Even though the notebooks are different colors and are clearly labeled WRITER’S NOTEBOOK or READER’S NOTEBOOK, someone always comes to the meeting area with the wrong notebook, even after I clearly said, “Your reader’s notebook, the green one,” multiple times. Because of this and my new role as an elementary instructional coach, I wonder is there a need for different notebooks, a writer’s notebook to collect ideas and play with mini lessons about writing craft, a reader’s notebook to notice author’s craft and to respond to reading, a science journal to observe, hypothesize and write lab reports, or could the same notebook be used for these different genres of writing? Continue reading Writer’s Notebooks: A tool that is as individual as the writer→