by Melissa Ardery, Published April 29, 2013
YPSILANTI - The Eastern Michigan Writing Project (EMWP) has received a $12,000 grant from the National Writing Project (NWP) called Supporting Effective Educators Development (SEED) to develop a new online learning experience for teachers.
The new online experience will be based on the book, Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Student to Navigate Unfamiliar Genres, written by co-authors Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughan.
Fleischer, a professor of English at Eastern, and Andrew-Vaughan, an English teacher at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., wrote the book when they realized they both had students who were not as successful when writing in genres they were not familiar with.
"We hope the online experience will introduce teachers to the concepts in the book and give them the tools to show their students the various different processes of writing for different genres," says Fleischer.
Fleischer and Andrew-Vaughan joined together to develop their ideas and create the book while co-teaching in a high school classroom. The experience gave them the confidence they needed to develop a book that could be used in a variety of capacities with educators across the country.
"Through this grant, we can share our knowledge of what we've learned through our partnership with other teachers around the country," says Andrew-Vaughan.
The online course will incorporate three phases to allow teachers an easy transition of implementing the concepts of the book with their own students.
"The goal of the online experience is to get teachers thinking outside their own comfort zones," says Fleischer. "Our goal is to have them find ways to incorporate innovative teaching during a time of common core state standards and suggest ways teachers can meet these standards while including creative teaching."
Part one will begin with a three-week online book club study in the Spring 2014. The participants will be teachers who have gone through the National Writing Project. They will take part in discussion boards that focus on chapters in the text and discuss the ideas in the book in light of what is happening within their classrooms, share ideas, or provide feedback based on postings.
The second phase begins in the summer with teachers writing in their own unfamiliar genres to gain the experience of what it is like to write in a form that they are inexperienced in.
"During the first phase, teachers will be given the tools they need to understand the process of writing in an unfamiliar genre, and in the second phase, they will actually experience it themselves," said Fleischer.
Teachers will put their experiences into practice in their own classrooms during the final phase in the Fall. The discussion boards will focus on support and encouragement for the implementation within their class, and sharing of unique ideas that each participant may encounter while teaching.
"I'm proud to be part of the Eastern Michigan Writing Project and I appreciate all that I've learned through my association with the project," says Andrew-Vaughan. "There's no better honor than the opportunity to pass along the generosity, welcoming community and learning one has received."
Visit the National Writing Project's Resource homepage for more information about the book Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Student to Navigate Unfamiliar Genres. Visit The Eastern Michigan Writing Program homepage for more about Eastern's Writing Project.