Founded in 1987, Prairie Lands Writing Project is northern Missouri's only National Writing Project site. Our site began as a collaborative effort between Missouri Western State College, now Missouri Western State University (MWSU), and the St. Joseph School District (SJSD). In 1996, we changed our site name from the Writing Project at St. Joseph to Prairie Lands Writing Project (PLWP), reflecting our desire to serve teachers beyond the borders of our city. We have been successful in that we now deliver a plethora of programs year-round throughout northern Missouri: teacher learning communities, writing groups and retreats, in-services, youth writing camps, advanced institutes and open institutes. During the calendar year which ended August 31, 2011, Prairie Lands offered 70 separate programs which reached 1309 teachers, pre-service teachers and youth, for a total of 19,251 program contact hours! 

Our goals: improving student writing and literacy skills, grades K - 16, providing professional development opportunities for teachers, using the teachers teaching teachers model.

NWP, PLWP, MWSU, TC—What do all these mean?

NWP stands for the National Writing Project; PLWP stands for the Prairie Lands Writing Project; MWSU is Missouri Western State University, the university campus on which Prairie Lands Writing Project is housed. TC is shorthand for Teacher Consultant, the name given to the Summer Invitational fellows who successfully complete that professional development institute.

What is the National Writing Project?

On its own website, the National Writing Project (NWP) describes itself as “a professional development network that serves teachers of writing at all grade levels, primary through university, and in all subjects. The mission of the NWP is to improve student achievement by improving the teaching of writing and improving learning in the nation’s schools.”

How is Prairie Lands Writing Project connected to the National Writing Project?

Prairie Lands Writing Project (PLWP) is one of nearly 200 local sites that make up the NWP network. The local sites are hosted by universities and colleges and co-directed by faculty from the local university and from K–12 schools. Just as all local sites do, PLWP works in partnership with area school districts to offer high-quality professional development programs for educators.

Are PLWP and the events and activities it sponsors strictly designed for English teachers or the group’s own Teacher Consultants?

As a local site of the National Writing Project, Prairie Lands is guided by a national model and the NWP’s core mission of improving the teaching of writing and improving the use of writing across the disciplines by offering high-quality professional development programs and opportunities for educators in their service area, at all grade levels, K-16, and across the curriculum.

How can educators become involved in PLWP's events and activities?

Check the calendar on this site for upcoming events and professional development opportunities. Then follow any directions for sign-ups or registrations. Check back on the site periodically for new offerings and events, too.

What exactly is a TC and how does one go about becoming a TC?

A TC is a Writing Project Teacher-Consultant who has successfully completed the site’s Invitational Summer Institute where they participated in reading, research, writing, teacher demonstration, and reflection activities to help them improve and enhance their knowledge base about current issues and developments in the fields of literacy, rhetoric and composition, and school reform, and applied that knowledge to their teaching practices.

What are the advantages of being a TC?

TCs become part of a professional community where they can participate in the leadership of the site through advisory boards and other leadership roles and opportunities that allow them to share their professional knowledge. As a TC they also have access to a vast network of support and resources for their continued learning, engagement and growth.

What types of professional development experiences can PLWP offer and/or facilitate for schools or school districts?

As a National Writing Project site, Prairie Lands Writing Project offers programs throughout northwest Missouri to help teachers improve student literacy skills, especially reading and writing, by operating on the National Writing Project’s “teachers teaching teachers” model and philosophy.

Who should a teacher or administrator contact if they are interested in having PLWP provide professional development for their school or district?

Contact MWSU English Professor and PLWP Site Director, Dr. Susan Martens, at 816-271-4315 or via email at smartens@missouriwestern.edu, or contact PLWP Advisory Board Member and the site’s Professional Development Director, Heidi Mick, at heidil_64@hotmail.com.

Where can classroom teachers look further on this site for helpful teaching resources and materials?

Under the “Teachers” tab, take a look in the “Teacher Resource Wiki” link.