National Writing Project Boosts Teacher Skills, Student Success
Project gives teachers the support they need to build new skills: President Emerita Augusta Souza Kappner, Bank Street College of Education
Most people would agree that education is at the heart of any country’s future as a democratic, globally competitive, and humane nation. Few may understand the key role that writing plays in education at all grade levels and in all subjects. Writing is a tool for thinking, learning, and communicating; it is crucial to academic and workplace success.
The National Writing Project (NWP) is a long-standing network of thousands of educators who are working together to improve writing and learning in the nation’s schools. Every year, more than 3,000 teachers participate in intensive four-week NWP institutes across the country. NWP teacher-leaders reach 65,000 students annually. Over 7,000 professional development activities are delivered by NWP teacher-leaders to an additional 130,000 educators who reach 1.4 million students every year.
The New York City Writing Project (NYCWP) at Lehman College, CUNY, is one of seven Writing Project sites in the state and one of more than 200 sites based at colleges and universities across the country. The Writing Project provides high-quality professional development programs to teachers in a variety of disciplines, at all grade levels.
"Day in and day out, teachers demonstrate how central they are to education reform," said Sharon J. Washington, NWP executive director. "The Writing Project provides new ways for teachers to stay connected and share ideas with one another, so their professional development never stops."
Established in 1978, the New York City Writing Project has a long history of service to the city’s schools. In 2009-2010, the site served more than 1,400 teachers from 27 schools, helping to advance the NYC school system’s dual focus on equity and achievement. NYCWP leaders work with principals and teachers to develop writing-intensive schools where students have multiple opportunities to write across subject areas in ways that promote their academic achievement. In 2010, the NYC Department of Education qualified the New York City Writing Project to offer professional development in instructional technology services to schools.
“By partnering with schools to deliver long-term professional development programs, the New York City Writing Project gives teachers the support they need to build new skills and adapt their teaching practices to our changing world,” said Augusta Souza Kappner, president emerita of Bank Street College and vice chair of NWP’s board of directors. “The improvements in instruction are giving our students a better chance to thrive in school and in the workplace.”
Some of the innovative projects developed by NYCWP teacher-leaders include Teachers Teaching Teachers, a weekly webcast where educators discuss the latest developments in the use of technology in their classrooms; Youth Voices, an online community where students and teachers share and discuss their digital work; and a partnership with Global Kids to explore online gaming as a strategy for academic learning. In addition, a number of NYCWP teachers have contributed to Digital Is, an NWP online community where teachers share ideas and resources on teaching and writing in the digital age. Digital Is is supported in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Teachers in New York City and across the country consistently report that Writing Project institutes made them better teachers and had a lasting effect on their teaching practices. National research studies show that the Writing Project works: students of teachers who participate in NWP programs show significant gains in writing achievement.
“What’s wonderful about being in New York City is that so many teachers of various talents are interested in connecting to best meet their students’ needs,” said Paul Allison, a teacher at East-West School of International Studies in Flushing, and the Technology Liaison for NYCWP. “The New York City Writing Project has been a great umbrella in making those connections possible.”#