Monday, August 17, 2009


A few weeks ago, I posted about the professional learning community I was tapped to facilitate for the coming school year. It is supposed to be a continuity group for teachers who have taken either the Writing Project Summer Institute, or the 3 credit hour course offered during the year. I was heartened by the fact that our county ELA department recognized how valuable exposure to the NWP can be AND how important it is to support teachers afterward. As part of the planning for our first meeting in September, I sent links to a couple of articles that I thought would be really good places to start our conversation about how to keep that writing project magic alive. One was called Teaching After the Summer Institute by Nick Maneno. It is by no means a radical manifesto, and I encourage you to follow the link and read it for yourselves, but I'll cite a brief excerpt here:

Teachers who have had experiences like the summer institute often find themselves explaining the benefits of student-constructed knowledge over teacher-directed practice, word study over traditional spelling lists, cooperative work over isolated practice.

But when I talk about writing practices with my teaching team, administration, and most teachers, they are often not able to transcend rubrics, writing prompts, and the mechanics of writing.

Today, five weeks after I sent the link to our central department, I got this response to my proposal that we use this article in our initial meeting:

I understand the teacher's frustration in "Teaching after the Summer Institute," (and I think this is evident in our office's support of the NVWP course and summer institute) but I don't think the article says enough about how there has to be a balance between form and creativity. It would definitely make a good conversation piece, but we don't want teachers to think we're saying it's ok to toss rubrics, domains, etc., out the window.

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