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Oklahoma State University

National Writing Project Teacher Leaders Head Back to School

Monday, September 10, 2018

OSU Writing Project, teacher leaders in front of Theta Pond

"Write.Learn.Lead." is the backbone of the National Writing Project (NWP) network's signature programs for teachers and young people alike. During summer break, more than 3,000 teachers worked face-to-face and in online communities to share and learn new ways to teach writing, engage colleagues and enhance their leadership. Programs served all 50 states and included a wide range of content and approaches, anchored in improving writing and learning for today's young people. From collaborative work on argument writing in the NWP College, Career and Community Writers Program (C3WP) to youth programs aimed at sparking student interest and authentic learning experiences, Writing Project sites offered opportunities to fit local needs. NWP teacher leaders now join a nationwide K-university professional network focused on high-quality, effective and sustained professional development to improve the teaching of writing and learning in classrooms across the country. 

"NWP teacher leaders expand their own skills and knowledge to benefit their students, but an even larger impact happens when they share that knowledge with their colleagues,” said Dr. Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, NWP executive director. “Through their efforts, local Writing Project sites serve as hubs for a range of professional development activities and youth opportunities throughout the year."

Advancing the national scale-up of NWP's College, Career and Community Writers Program, over 40 local Writing Project sites held institutes and launched work to provide professional development in middle and high schools serving urban, rural and other high-need communities across the country. The goal of the program is to assure more teachers can support students' growth in reading and writing skills, with a specific emphasis on writing arguments based on nonfiction texts. In one of the largest and most rigorous studies of teacher professional development, SRI International found that this work has a positive, statistically significant impact on student writing.

Through NWP's Writing Our Future: American Creed initiative, teachers, librarians and youth mentors continue to engage young people as they respond to the PBS film, American Creed with writing, media and art. Using an online youth publishing platform, NWP's Writing Our Future projects are designed by educators for educators and the young people they work with and intended for use in schools, libraries and other educational settings. The projects support young people's writing and civic participation by providing a safe and supportive environment for youth writing, media creation, sharing and publishing.

Beyond these initiatives, the NWP network of local sites, teacher leaders and programs encompass multiple disciplines — English, math, science, art, civics, history — and spaces beyond the classroom: online communities, after school programs, museums and libraries. Through these partnerships, Writing Project sites extend the reach of their work to dedicated educators developing next-generation curriculum and learning opportunities that support all young people as writers and creators.

This summer, teacher leaders in Oklahoma participated in the OSU Writing Project summer institutes in Stillwater and Tulsa, creating professional development growth opportunities for their students and their schools. 

“After a difficult year for Oklahoma teachers, it would have been very easy for teachers to justify wanting to take a break during the summer months,” said Dr. Shelbie Witte, site director of the OSU Writing Project. “However, Oklahoma teachers are resilient and the best examples of perseverance.  Many of our teachers spent more than 100 hours this summer reflecting on their teaching and considering way to improve.  The students will reap the benefits of their investment.”

"We know through research that programs designed and delivered by NWP sites have a positive effect on the writing achievement of students across grade levels, schools and contexts,” Eidman-Aadahl said. “Now is the time to continue to support this ongoing, high-quality professional development for teachers, principals and school leaders.”

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