NYC Writing Project: “Neglected ‘R’”
Ph.D. & Nancy Mintz, Ph.D.
New York City Writing Project at Lehman College, CUNY, established
in 1978 as the local site of the National Writing Project,
reflects the mission of a national network of 175 university-based
professional development programs dedicated to the National
Commission’s [on Writing] goal of putting “language and communication
in their proper place in the classroom.”
its sustained professional development programs for teachers
and its partnerships with schools and regions, the NYC Writing
Project (NYCWP) is enacting the recommendations of the Commission
to double the amount of time students spend writing, ensure
that schools have a writing plan, teach writing at all grade
levels and in all subjects, and provide for teacher professional
development. We are encouraged and supported in our work by
Department of Education policies that establish extended time
for reading and writing within a “balanced literacy” approach
that includes time for writing, both to support reading and
for its own sake. Our work in middle schools and high schools
extends this focus on balanced literacy beyond teachers of
English language arts to encourage every teacher across all
disciplines to use writing as a tool for thinking and learning.
endorse the Commission’s assertion that “developing critical
thinkers and writers should be understood as one of the central
works of education.” These are skills students must acquire
across content areas if they are to succeed on the various
new assessments and progress beyond the secondary school level
to higher education.
believe that one key to improving teacher practice and student
performance in writing across the curriculum is developing
stable, long-term professional development relationships with
schools. School-year seminars in the teaching of writing
for teachers from all disciplines, typically offered at school
sites after the school day. In these seminars, led by exemplary
New York City teachers of writing, teachers engage in their
own writing, discuss recent literacy research, share and reflect
upon practical ways to improve instruction, build partnerships
across disciplines and departments, and examine and learn from
support provided by a NYCWP teacher-consultant who spends
two days each week in a school working with teachers and
staff developers to plan lessons and projects, team-teach,
recommend and share resources, and encourage the publication
of student writing Direct work with school administrators to
help them develop and enact a writing policy, increase their
understanding of literacy development and of best practices
in the teaching of writing.
these components establish and nurture school-based professional
communities where teachers and administrators learn together
to improve student writing, learning, and achievement. This
work also builds teacher leaders who ultimately co-lead Writing
Project seminars and provide on-site assistance to their colleagues.
addition to our school-based in-service program, we sponsor
summer fellowships in the teaching of writing, a technology
initiative, teacher-research programs, and a summer institute
for teen writers. Finally, the NYC Writing Project’s work reflects
the shared commitment of the Commission and The City University
of New York to writing across the curriculum in higher education.
Writing Project directors contributed to the development of
CUNY’s Writing Across the Curriculum program, and are directly
involved in Lehman College’s program. In Lehman’s program,
faculty across disciplines meet monthly in a professional community
to share writing practice, develop writing-intensive syllabi
and assignments, and consider their expectations for and assessments
of student work. The Writing Project is also a partner in Looking
Both Ways, a professional development program sponsored by
CUNY’s Office of Academic Affairs, which fosters cross-institutional
learning among high school and CUNY teachers of writing through
seminars, inter-visitations, and teacher-research studies.
the Commission’s report states, developing writers is “not
a simple and easy task, or something that will be finished
and out of the way by the end of next week, or even the end
of next year.” The New York City Writing Project is committed
long-term to improving the teaching of writing in our schools
and to every teacher’s obligation to take writing seriously.#
Wolfe, Director of the Institute for Literacy Studies, Lehman
College, CUNY, Member of the National Task Force of the National
Writing Project. Nancy Mintz, Director of the NYC Writing
Project (a program of the Institute for Literacy Studies),
Co-coordinator of the Urban Sites Network of the National
Update, Inc., P.O. Box 1588, New York, NY 10159.
Tel: (212) 477-5600. Fax: (212) 477-5893. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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