Teachers Teach Teachers at National Writing Project Institutes

Thursday, July 29, 2010

As the global world becomes more connected with the evolution of technology, developing effective communication skills is becoming more critical. Eleven teachers from area school districts had a chance to explore writing strategies across the curriculum during a four-week summer institute of the National Writing Project at Rider University, hosted by Rider University’s School of Education on the Lawrenceville campus during the month of July.

The 10th annual Invitational Institute was funded by a $45,000 grant from the National Writing Project. The teachers, who applied and were selected to participate in the professional development program, represented the Ewing, Robbinsville and Trenton school districts. 

“The goal of the program is teachers teaching teachers how to write across the curriculum. We aim to have a mixed group of teachers from all grade levels and subjects each year,” said Dr. Carol Brown, associate professor of Teacher Education, and director of the National Writing Project at Rider University. “It’s amazing how a high-school math teacher learns from the second- or fifth-grade teachers.”

Linda Biondi and Carol Hotchkiss, both fourth-grade teachers in the Robbinsville Public School District, served as institute faculty. During the institute, participating teachers, representing kindergarten through high school, learned about the stages of the writing process and explored writing in various genres, and examined strategies for using writing across the curriculum. During the school year, the participants share their acquired techniques with their colleagues and meet monthly to discuss feedback. All participants receive three graduate credits from Rider.

Kerry Young and Anne Marie Jamison, both teachers at Parkway Elementary School in Ewing Township School District, applied for the summer institute after hearing about the positive reviews of the program from their colleagues.

“The experience has been very rewarding. I feel I can empower my students to write with confidence,” said Young, who teaches third grade.

Jamison, a second-grade teacher, agreed with Young.

“I can take a wealth of knowledge about mentor text back to my classroom and my school,” said Jamison about using examples of literature to demonstrate different writing strategies. “I realized that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are already great tools and literature out there.”

In addition to the Invitational Institute, the National Writing Project at Rider held Summer 2010 Open Institutes during the month of July for all area teachers. Topics included poetry, guided reading, grammar, writing with computer animation and social networking.

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools. NWP sites are located on more than 200 university and college campuses. For more information about the National Writing Project at Rider University, please visit nwprider.org.

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