In 1997 my teaching was transformed after I attended a National Writing Project (NWP) Summer Institute in writing. It was there that I made the connection between what I was saying to my students and what I was doing with them on a daily basis. After that summer I began writing with my students and when I gave them assignments I modeled my own writing process so that they could see the challenges that come with writing.
“The NWP is built on the idea that one learns to write, and to teach writing, by writing. So teachers in the summer institutes must produce writing that is critiqued by their peers. Also at the summer institute, teachers study research into the teaching of writing and present effective practices from their own classrooms.” For the full article go to http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2014/10/Teachers-Must-Write-to-Become-Great-Teachers-of-Writing.
We cannot all attend a summer institute but we can learn from what has been taught and learned by the National Writing Project. One thing stands out in my mind from that summer. If you are afraid of writing yourself you are not alone. Many students and adults are inexperienced writers and feel the same way. Imagine what can happen if you open yourself to the fear and face it head on. For me, after that summer my scores improved by 5% on all standardized and written assessments. It went on to increase further as I became more adept with implementing the writing process. It seems that together my students and I began to see how writing is in fact a problem solving endeavor.
The article in the March 28th Newsweek recognizes what many writing teachers have known for a long time and that is that writing is perhaps the most important and most overlooked college and career readiness skill.
As we have seen from our first glimpses of PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and Indy Core writing is not a part of our assessments in the form of constructed response, short answer, and the performance tasks (PBAs). It is time to jump in and write. To read the Newsweek piece go to http://www.newsweek.com/2015/04/10/youre-100-percent-wrong-about-math-scores-317526.html