The Minnesota Writing Project aims to improve K–college literacy in Minnesota. Housed within the Center for Writing at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, MWP is the local site of the National Writing Project, an authorized provider of No Child Left Behind.
Showcasing MWP teachers:
Much of what we read in the local education section of the newspaper describes shifting tests scores or school closings. It is infrequent that we are offered a peek into the mind and heart of teachers. Our new Teacher Showcase feature will give our recent ISI participants a chance to speak their mind about the teaching of writing and the need for quality professional development. Return often to read these profiles.
Grade you teach:
Shakopee East Junior High
Summer Institute Writing: First Impressions
Summer Institute Demonstration: Theme Support
Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching?
After our school took a hiatus from teaching writing except in writer’s workshop in 6th grade, I feel energized and supported in my new writing endeavors. We at Shakopee Junior High were pushed to get reading scores up, so reading, reading, reading for the MCA test was of utmost importance. I am enthralled to start getting my students’ pens in motion and continuing this throughout the entire year. I am in year 21, but I now feel like an idealist again! I have a semester’s worth of writing prompts, products, and mentor texts both written and digital. I also have a plethora of places to find resources that I know how to apply. Every one of the participants gave me a lesson to expand and adapt for my classroom, for which I am grateful.
I am a better writer. I feel so much more comfortable now being a writer. I feel that learning how to better give “two stars and a wish” to my writing group will help me with my students. I had to become a student again in a writer’s group in order to better help my future students. I am very appreciative to my three groupies for all the compliments and encouragement. I was withdrawn as a writer before the Writing Project, but every day as I drove home, I was grabbing at ideas to write about and yelling into my phone, “Holly you can write about . . .,” and I would dictate all the ideas rushing out of me to later type into my documents when I got home. I am beginning to split my own reading time with writing tim,e even though writing seems more demanding than a pleasurable novel. I am refreshed and renewed!
What are your beliefs about writing?
I believe now that students need to get in motion and stay in motion all year. A writer’s notebook is so valuable as a collection of samples, memories, lessons, and potential Newbery Award winners to look back at and revise! I think a 1:4 ratio of looking at student work is now manageable. I would also agree that content is way more valuable than grammar and mechanics when starting students in motion.
What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know
by Jeff Anderson.
It is practical, has charts, and uses narrative stories about how to use the charts. It is user friendly for teachers of grades 5-12. Even though the 10 things listed may be renamed by other teachers, each idea is fully introduced and examples provided; even mentor texts and models are shared to clearly explain his monikers.
Believing that teachers can empower other teachers, members provide an environment in which teachers can learn from one another and then share that learning with others in their classrooms, departments, schools, and districts. MWP is committed to improving the literacy of all students, strengthening university and school collaboration on reading and writing instruction, and increasing the professional power of teachers in meeting state standards and the curricular demands of NCLB.
Identifies exemplary teachers who can teach other teachers
Encourages teachers to write
Assists schools and districts in identifying their literacy needs and supports them in meeting those needs through pertinent staff development
Supports long-term reform and improvement in literacy instruction through classroom-based, action research
Maintains partnerships between schools and the University
Promotes cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity and understanding within MWP
For additional information, see About MWP.
Muriel Thompson, Director
The Minnesota Writing Project is funded in part by the Center for Writing, the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, and the National Writing Project.
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