As teachers we hardly ever get to practice the skills we teach. At the PLWP Summer Invitational Institute (SI), teachers reconnect with their own writing selves, rediscover their own writing voices, rebuild writing fluency, and reflect on what it is like to be in their students’ shoes. The SI is a recharging experience. The Institute participants have the opportunity to work in a community of writers for four weeks and are given the time to investigate aspects of teaching writing they are interested in at the same time they learn from what other participants are learning. In the PLWP Summer Invitational, teachers have the opportunity to explore their own writing as art, as investigation, and as reflection. Participants then have the opportunity to share their writing with peers, receive feedback, and give feedback to their writing peers.
Missouri Writing Projects Network Initiative
From June 2006 to May 2008, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education contracted with Prairie Lands Writing Project (PLWP) and the other four National Writing Project (NWP) sites in Missouri to deliver Middle School Literacy Academies at each of the state’s nine Regional Professional Development Centers (RPDCs). Read more about how the NWP sites in Missouri (MWPN) developed the statewide inservice series with DESE’s assessment division.
The academies were a multi-year project designed to improve students’ performance on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP), Missouri’s “No Child Left Behind” accountability exam. The state’s nine Regional Professional Development Centers hosted/sponsored the academies, with at least two National Writing Project Teacher Consultants (TCs) facilitating each academy. The TCs used a common format, delivery, set of instructional resources and assessment materials.
During 2007-2008, PLWP delivered “Year One: Reading and Writing” and “Year Two: Teacher Inquiry” Middle School Literacy Academies at Missouri Western State University (in conjunction with the Northwest Regional Professional Development Center), and at Truman State University (in conjunction with the Northeast Regional Professional Development Center).
For the 2008-2009 school year Prairie Lands facilitated literacy academies and follow up sessions for the St. Joseph and Excelsior Springs school districts patterned off the original literacy academy project.
Middle School Teams “Year One: Reading and Writing” – Meeting at Truman State University
PLWP TC facilitators: Pam Johnston, Kathy Miller; NERPDC Regional Instructional Facilitator: Pam Carte
Adair County R-I
Green City R-I
Schuyler County R-I
Scotland County R-I
Middle School Teams “Year One: Reading and Writing” – Meeting at MWSU
PLWP TC facilitators: Sara Capra, Kelly Lock; NWRPDC Regional Instructional Facilitator: Sally Minnick
West Nodaway County R-I
Worth County R-III
Middle School Teams “Year Two: Teacher Inquiry” – Meeting at Truman State University
PLWP TC facilitators: Pam Johnston, Kathy Miller, Barbara Price; NERPDC Regional Instructional Facilitator: Pam Carte LaPlata
R-II Macon County R-IV
Middle School Teams “Year Two: Teacher Inquiry” – Meeting at MWSU
PLWP TC facilitators: Heidi Mick, Valorie Stokes; NWRPDC Regional Instructional Facilitator Sally Minnick
North Andrew County RVI
St. Joseph Bode
During the “Year One: Reading and Writing” academies, participants complete the first stage of a professional portfolio that includes:
- Teacher writing from strategy practice
- Revised piece of writing
- Lesson that addresses Missouri’s GLEs and incorporates some of the strategies learned; scoring guides and OCR prompts included
- Protocols for assessing student work
- An implementation plan and reflection/assessment of lessons as implemented
The focus for the second year of the academies is teacher inquiry and reflective practice. The schools and teacher participants continuing in the project are immersing themselves in an inquiry process by developing and carrying out literacy action research projects tailored to their own classrooms and school environments. Also during the second year of the academies, participants will continue adding to their professional portfolio which will include:
- A new lesson that addresses Missouri’s GLEs
- Evidence of the use of technology
- A management plan for the 2007-2008 school year and reflection on it
- Samples of teacher field notes and student work analyzes for inquiry project
- An extended reflection about finds from the inquiry project.
National Research Project about the Literacy Academies Underway
The Missouri Writing Projects Network (including PLWP), is currently engaged in a multi-year research study of the effectiveness of the Middle School Literacy Academies. The study, supported by DESE with funding from the National Writing Project, is focusing on the impact of the Literacy Academies on teachers’ classroom practice changes and student achievement by comparing MAP data, student writing samples, teachers’ reflections, lesson plans, scripted interviews, etc., with control groups of teachers and students.
For more information about the Middle School Literacy Academy Project, contact Jane Frick, PLWP site director and Project Coordinator for the academies offered through the NWRPDC and NERPDC (817 271-4315).