The Eberly College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of English has again received a $43,000 federal grant to support the West Virginia University Writing Project.
Directed by Laura Brady, associate professor of English, the project creates and maintains partnerships with K-12 teachers in seven counties. Co-directors of the projects Summer Institute work with K-12 teachers who read about and discuss best practices and current research and develop new strategies for using writing in the classroom. The project maintains affiliations with the National Writing Project and the state Writing Project network.
Since 1974, the National Writing Project has been dedicated to improving the teaching of writing in our nations schools. The WVU Writing Project became a partner in this effort in 1987 by forging links between universities and K-12 school systems, primarily those in Monongalia, Marion, Preston and Wetzel counties. Some 275 teacher consultants have been trained to work with other teachers and administrators to promote writing and classroom research in 60 schools.
Studies by the Academy for Educational Development show that teachers affiliated with the National Writing Project view writing as fundamental to teaching all subjects and integrate writing into everything that they do. This emphasis on writing correlates with student achievement, especially when assignments resemble the type of problem solving in which adults engage in their everyday lives. Writing prepares students to be critical, analytical thinkers.
Each year, the WVU Writing Project sponsors a Summer Institute that brings together exemplary elementary-level and college-level teachers. In addition to sharing teaching strategies, participants in the Summer Institute also engage in their own personal and professional writing and study recent research on literacy and learning strategies.
Teachers return from this summer training prepared to take a lead in efforts to improve student achievement in their classrooms and are more aware of the connections that can help create a strong partnership among teachers from kindergarten through college. These WVU Writing Project fellows are prepared to serve as consultants and coaches to their colleagues as they strive to achieve high standards in writing and learning.
The writing project has given me not only ideas and materials but has given me confidence to create excitement for my students,said Ann Huntoon, a WVU Writing Project fellow from Monongalia County.The Writing Project is more than just a summer class. It is a valuable hands-on experience that has helped sharpen my skills in teaching writing across the curriculum.
U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., has urged schools to strengthen the fundamentals of education, including writing. His call is echoed by the National Commission on Writing for Americas Families, Schools and Colleges, a commission
that includes former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton and former WVU President Gene Budig.
In northern West Virginia, we hope partnerships between area schools and the WVU Writing Project will help improve state writing assessment test scores,Dr. Brady said.The WVU Writing Project teacher consultants already contribute to statewide writing assessment teams and provide workshops on strategies to prepare students for the assessment.
The WVU Writing Project in Morgantown is also part of a state network that includes the Marshall University Writing Project and the Central West Virginia Writing Project. The state network allows the three projects to build on each others strengths and supports programs such as the annual Young Writers Program.
The writing project gave me great ideas to use in my classroom, gave me the opportunity and encouragement to explore myself through writing, and gave me inspiring examples of passionate teachers dedicated to their craft,said Catherine Drown, a WVU Writing Project fellow from Preston County.