Focused on the broad theme of “Teaching Writing for Middle School and High School Students,” the Chippewa River Writing Project’s latest professional development partnership with the Clare-Gladwin RESD continues through the spring of 2011. Over the course of six sessions starting last fall and continuing through May, nearly 20 participants have engaged in conversations and activities about the teaching of writing in an era of the Common Core State Standards.
Facilitated by CRWP’s Professional Development Coordinator, Rita Maddox, the series has been an exciting opportunity for K-12 teachers across nine local districts to explore their identities as teachers and writers. Focusing on key texts such as Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them and CRWP’s Troy Hicks’ The Digital Writing Workshop, sessions have been directed on a variety of topics ranging from assessment, conferencing, and genre study, to digital writing tools such as blogs, podcasts, and wikis. Since its opening session in October 2010, participants have met on a monthly basis to collaborate through discussion, mini-lessons, and workshopping.
“This has really been a unique experience,” notes Maddox. “Even though we’re all teachers, some of us have never had the chance to teach in front of peers before.”
The fact that participants are able to meet and share with fellow teachers from across the district has also contributed to the unique, collaborative feel of sessions. “It’s a nice way to give a regional feel to things,” explains Maddox.
From their inception, the CGRESD sessions have truly been shaped with a collaborative approach in mind, drawing in fifteen guest speakers from across the state to lead discussion on various topics throughout the seminar. Spotlighting key issues has allowed each meeting to take on a unique flavor and approach. The next session, “Grammar Rocks!” headed by CRWP’s Erin Busch-Grabmeyer, will focus on mechanics and peer editing.
“What we teach is changing,” explains Maddox, as she notes the philosophy behind the seminar, “not so much in content as in the depth of knowledge students are expected to achieve and in expectations for critical thinking by students. Standards will have to be unwrapped for educators and then critically examined in order to begin to understand what it will take to achieve proficiency for ALL students. With new instructional practices needed, and more technology requirements in the classroom comes a need for continuing, embedded, meaningful, professional learning for educators.”
For more information on CRWP’s professional development services, please visit our PD page.