National Writing Project

Building a District-Based Secondary Writing Program Through the National Writing Project Model

By: Nancy Robb Singer, Diane Scollay
Date: 2007

Summary: This study examines the effects of a yearlong professional development inservice program conducted in the Mehlville School District near St. Louis, Missouri. Gateway Writing Project provided the inservice, which was based on established National Writing Project principles.

 

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This study attempted to measure the effectiveness of a professional development model centered on teacher inquiry. One measure of efficacy should be student performance; in this study, the program group students' writing achievement increased more than comparison students'. All of the program and comparison teachers in this study were excellent, experienced teachers, and our observations noted a preponderance of literacy events in both program and comparison teachers' classrooms. Yet program teachers' students clearly performed better on multiple measures of their writing. We believe this is due to a purposeful and systemic approach to the teaching of writing. While comparison teachers could articulate facets of process writing (e.g., they could describe a task as "prewriting"), their approach to the teaching of writing was lock-step and linear. Contrarily, program teachers seemed to have a more internalized notion of process writing. Their instruction was recursive; they seemed to understand and embrace the complexity of writing—allowing students choice and time in which to complete writing tasks.

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