It is always great to share professional development workshops with teachers– I haven’t been able to do this as often as I would like in the past five years (and when I have I’ve needed to take vacation days to do it, as I am this week)– but it is always a fun treat. I always walk away from training experiences learning lots of new things myself.

One of the things I learned about this morning is the New Jersey Writing Project, and the New Jersey Writing Project in Texas. It is focused on helping teachers learn about process skill writing by being students in process writing classrooms themselves. Tomorrow morning I think we’ll use this project as our topic for a whole-class podcast we are going to do together, before the teachers create their first podcasts on their own using Garageband and iWeb.

Their training model is: Training + Implementation = Improvement. This diagram shows their process:

New Jersey Writing Project in Texas

I love writing and loved using “the writing workshop” when I taught fourth grade in the mid to late 1990s, and I’m glad to learn about this project. I am not sure if it is related to The National Writing Project or not– I don’t think it is.

Bryan ISD has combined technology skills with the New Jersey Writing project, so the stuff on digital literacy I’m sharing with teachers this week on blogging and podcasting lines up nicely with the goals, objectives, and strategies related to writing that they already know about and are doing to help student develop better writing skills.

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3 Responses to Process writing

  1. Scott S. Floyd says:

    Hey, Wes. NJWPT and NWP are not related although they have mostly the same features. The main difference is that the NWP sends its participants away ready to train other teachers. It is funny you discussed this today. While I was trained in NJWPT several years back, I am in the middle of the NWP training as I write. Thanks for the literacy tie.

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Cool, thanks for the clarification Scott! I have just heard a little about both of these projects, but what I know sounds really good. I love writing (probably obvious from my blogging!) and love teaching writing too– I’m glad to see programs like this helping teachers improve their teaching strategies for writing. I was particularly intrigued by the NJWP approach, of having the teachers as students in a writing process classroom. I think we need to do the same thing with technology: It isn’t enough to just talk about how to use it, teachers need to be immersed as students themselves in integrated learning environments where technology is used transparently throughout the day. None of us grew up with access to technology like we have now, so learning to teach with it is a great challenge. This is especially true with all the time demands teachers face.

    I think Bryan ISD’s tie-in with technology and the NJWP is great– I hope that some of the teachers in our sessions this week will get going with blogging, and we’ll hear some success stories next year from the district about kids getting even more motivated to write (therefore writing more and with better quality) as a result of the authentic audience blogs can provide.

  3. Scott S. Floyd says:

    It is a great approach. The only other thing I would add is that the NWP uses a national training model that is a little freer in its use than the NJWPT. Some of the arrows would be making loops and u-turns as opposed to the NJWPT graphic of their training model. Again, NWP wants its trained teachers to go out and spread the wealth, per se. While NJWPT would like that as well, the initial training does not prepare its teachers for that. They offer an additional series of workshops to become a trainer.

    Since it takes three weeks to be NJWPT trained and five weeks to be NWP trained, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate literacy and have a thorough discussion of it. I know our NWP training uses a blog to disseminate information, share products, and post reflections. I offered to podcast the entire training, but there was a fear of encroaching on private discussions during the writing reflective time. The directors chose not to discuss it with the class. Oh well. When I discussed the plan to use a wiki or a blog to create an anthology for my students next year, an administrator in the course was quick to chime in that I needed to have parental permission to do that. It’s not that I didn’t know that or already have that taken care of, but her reaction seems to be one that resembles a person who doesn’t know enough about the topic and might tend to limit her own faculty in this area. It lead to a good discussion about the safety measures already in place and the possibility for a global audience to read and review the students’ work instead of just the teacher and classmates.

    I am going to put together a wiki just to keep my materials organized for this NWP training. I am not sure how useful it will be to others, but we’ll see. I plan to use it in future training that I do with writing teachers. While I started a wiki just to test drive it, I never really did more than sit in the driver’s seat and look through the windshield. I really need to take it out for a test drive, and this is a great opportunity for me to do just that.

    By the way, I do Model Untied Nations with my students. I have them research world issues using the Internet so they have global resources. I am going to have them create del.icio.us accounts to track their findings so they are not printing as much until they know what they need. To make their work beneficial to all, I want to create a page on my site that gives a snapshot of recent postings to their accounts. I want a small window with their del.icio.us account links and the most recent addition or two for each of my students all on the same web page. Any idea how to do this easily? I know I could have them create Bloglines accounts to track their classmates additions, but I wanted a quicker visual way that would allow me create a collaborative page. I would appreciate the input.

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