Teachers study research, effective classroom practices during summer institute
Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 1:07 pm
The Messenger 08.12.09
More than 3,000 kindergarten through college teachers across the country dedicated four weeks of their summer break to learning new strategies to improve their students’ writing skills.
The teachers studied the latest research and effective classroom practices in summer institutes at more than 200 National Writing Project (NWP) sites on college campuses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The majority of Americans view good writing skills as essential to success in college and the workplace, according to a recent national public opinion survey, Writing, a National Pastime, Takes New Forms, by the research firm Belden Russonello & Stewart. However, they fear that public schools and children are falling behind. Just 17 percent believe that when students graduate from high school they have the writing skills they need for college and 75 percent say that our K-12 education system should put more emphasis on the teaching of writing.
“Teachers who attend NWP summer institutes return to their classrooms with new strategies for teaching writing and with experience using digital tools,” said Sharon J. Washington, NWP executive director. “Eighty percent of Americans believe there is a greater need now than 20 years ago for a person to be able to write well in order to succeed. Summer institutes are one of many writing project programs that address this need.”
National research studies confirm significant gains in writing performance among students whose teachers participate in NWP programs.
The local affiliate site of the National Writing Project, the West Tennessee Writing Project (housed in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee at Martin), held its invitational summer institute on May 16 and June 8-July 2, with 11 teachers participating for six hours of graduate credit in English. The group will meet for three follow-up sessions in the coming school year.
Participating teachers had many positive things to say about WTWP’s 2009 Summer Institute.
Shannon Lyon, ninth-grade teacher at Obion County Central High School, said, “What I am taking with me is the desire to get published. I’m never going to jump out of an airplane or any other such type of daredevil thing, but I cannot be a chicken anymore about my writing.”
Kristy Dowden, fourth-grade teacher at Union City Elementary, added, “The West Tennessee Writing Project is the best professional development I have received.”
The West Tennessee Writing Project is offering an open workshop on Sept. 12 for all grades and all subjects on the campus of UT Martin. The title of the workshop is “Control+Shift: Cross-Curricular Writing with Technology” and it will be held from 8 a.m. -2 p.m., with lunch included in the registration cost. For more information on this workshop or other WTWP programs, visit the Web site www.utm.edu/wtwp, e-mail project director David Carithers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (731) 881-7290.