by Melissa Ardery, Published October 22, 2012
The Eastern Michigan Writing Project (EMWP) received three $20,000 grants in May and June 2012 from the National Writing Project under a program called "Supporting Effective Educators Development (SEED). Each grant will help implement professional development programs for teachers in schools within the area.
The EMWP, a site of the National Writing Project, provides professional development programs in writing for classroom teachers.
"Although the EMWP has offered professional development in the Teaching of writing for nearly two decades, this will be the first year that work can be sustained for a full year in one local school with grant funding," says EMWP Site Director and professor in English, Language and Literature, William Tucker
The first grant, "Teacher Leadership Development," provides funding to sustain and expand the work of the EMWP, Tucker says. It will support teachers involved in research and instructional coaching, and assist in promoting the program to more K-12 teachers.
The second grant supports a national research study called, "Evaluating the Impact of Professional Development to Meet Challenging Writing Standards in High-Need Elementary Schools." High needs schools are where at least 50% of students get a free or reduced lunch, Tucker says. "The money will pay for EMWP teachers to go into Central Academy in Ann Arbor, and provide 45 hours of professional development per teacher in the teaching of writing." Evaluation of their success will be monitored closely for the study.
Only 15 writing project sites were awarded the grant to work in 20 high need elementary schools across the country, and this national study is the first of its kind. "It will validate the work the writing project does for schools," Tucker says. "The most successful way of implementing professional development is providing models, and showing other teachers the correct teaching techniques when teaching writing."
The third grant also supports, "Professional Development in High-Need Schools," however no evaluation component is required. The EMWP will offer 30 hours of professional development per teacher at Ann Arbor Tech, an alternative high school.
This type of professional development allows for thoroughness, Tucker says, rather than just providing a quick lesson and saying to teachers 'ok now you are on your own.'
The EMWP core principles are that the best teachers of writing are teachers who write, Tucker says. Teachers who are advanced in writing can be successful teachers of other teachers. Professional development provides opportunities for teachers to work together and become partners in educational research, development, and implementation.
Along with professional development and community outreach, the EMWP also offers summer institutes, and family literacy programs.
The Summer Institute is the flagship program for the National Writing Project, Tucker says. Nearly 220 teachers have attended since 1992, and it is an intensive four week session designed for teachers and administrators (k-College) concerned with the teaching of writing.
"The 20th reunion is coming up and it shows the durability and resilience of the institute," Tucker says. "It is a type of collegial seminar, where teachers are able to share ideas, receive feedback, demonstrate their own techniques, self-evaluate, and receive recognition for their knowledge."
Once they leave the program there is continuous support and follow through. "We don't just train teachers and say 'good luck," Tucker says.
"The Summer Institute brought me out as a writer, and gave me resources along with a network of support of writers," says Marquin Parks, a summer institute student, teacher and author.
"The Writing Project helped me to collaborate with other teachers on the local and state levels, and now with twitter and social media, we have a connection with Writing Project teachers on the national level.
"The EMWP is about sharing ideas to become better in the classroom. It has allowed me to have more resources so I can best captivate and help students in my school."