National Writing Project

National Reading Initiative Project

NRI Lead Sites Project

From 2002–2006, nine writing project sites with strong histories of professional development work in reading participated in a national learning community to study, refine, and expand their professional development models for working on reading with teachers in grades 4–12. Focused on informational and expository texts, this community of writing project sites continues to develop resources to be shared within the NWP network and the field at large.

Nine Participating Sites

Jacksonville State University Writing Project, Alabama

As part of the National Reading Initiative, the Jacksonville State University Writing Project is expanding its focus on reading comprehension and expository writing through "Reading and Writing Connections" study groups in area districts. Plans for extending this school-based professional development program, now in its second year, include multiday institutes and peer coaching opportunities for targeted schools throughout the school year. The initiative's site leadership team is testing modules for professional development created at the site—in particular, modules in motivation, comprehension strategies, vocabulary, and reading/writing connections. The Jacksonville State University Writing Project serves rural schools near the Alabama-Georgia border.

Northern California Writing Project, California

The Northern California Writing Project’s National Reading Initiative work presently focuses on two groups of high school teachers engaged in long-term professional development linked to strengthening adolescent literacy. The site's service area encompasses a range of districts, many where poverty is prevalent, that serve a diverse population of students. Previous summer invitational institutes in academic reading and writing have led to sustained work with two high schools, facilitating the study and exploration of reading with content-area teachers. Building on that work, one National Reading Initiative group is developing inquiry projects as resources for middle school classes and documenting both student work and changes in teachers’ classroom practices. The second group, consisting of high school teachers in several disciplines, is inquiring into the uses and means of reading in their content-area classes.

San Joaquin Valley Writing Project, California

Building on a range of programs at the site, the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project formed a teacher inquiry group to conduct sustained study of the research, theory, and pedagogy of reading comprehension and its expression in writing and other artifacts. Focusing on its own experiences as readers as well as its students’ comprehension of expository texts, the team conducted an advanced summer institute on comprehension in the second year of its National Reading Initiative work. Serving teachers in five counties in Central California, both urban and rural, the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project has been involved with professional development in reading for a number of years, including studying reading comprehension in conjunction with the California language arts standards. The site has published a book on teaching vocabulary and provided institutes for high school teachers on reading and writing expository texts. Its National Reading Initiative work on comprehension builds on this work and extends it, with emphases on reading comprehension, teaching English language learners, and assessments.

Chicago Area Writing Project, Illinois

In order to deepen and expand a robust set of professional development offerings in reading to teachers in the Chicago area, as well as to build leadership capacity, the Chicago Area Writing Project (CAWP) developed a variety of opportunities through its National Reading Initiative work. CAWP offers inservice programs, including courses for content-area teachers, workshops, and Saturday seminars, as well as a cross-grade teacher inquiry group and an opportunity to examine teacher assignments and student work through tools such as protocols. To expand its leadership capacity, CAWP has developed an internship training model for its teacher-consultants in which members of its reading initiative team observe and/or participate in a 15- to 30-hour content-area reading program to equip themselves to lead future programs for other schools.

Red Cedar Writing Project, Michigan

As a member of the National Reading Initiative, the Red Cedar Writing Project is providing professional development programs for teachers in urban, suburban, and rural areas in and around Lansing, Michigan. The programs focus on reading and reading-writing connections and examine the research base and theoretical underpinnings of best practices. Following an initial self-study, the National Reading Initiative team, now in its second year, is exploring successful reading strategies across the curriculum through a collaboration with content-area teachers. This collaboration has resulted in a four-day professional development series for teachers across content areas. Plans for working with content-area teachers in site-based professional learning communities are presently being developed.

MSU Writing/Thinking Project, Mississippi

Now in its second year, the National Reading Initiative at the Mississippi State University Writing/Thinking Project is offering an advanced summer institute centered on content-area literacy issues. Building on its history of work with teachers in rural and suburban settings around Starkville, Mississippi, the MSU Writing/Thinking Project is in the process of examining and refining its professional development models in the teaching of reading and building leadership among teacher-consultants who provide professional development in reading and writing across the curriculum. The site has conducted meetings and training weekends for teacher-consultants across the curriculum, focusing on integrating professional development in reading instruction into the work of the site.

New York City Writing Project, New York

The New York City Writing Project’s work in writing/reading connections is concentrated in grades 5–12, emphasizing writing and reading across the curriculum. Now completing its second year of work, the National Reading Initiative site team led a group of content-area teachers through a yearlong inquiry into their own teaching practices. Teachers developed questions around reading, explored related reading and writing strategies, collected and examined student work connected to their inquiries, kept teaching journals, and posted to a weblog maintained at the site. These activities deepened and extended a long history of work with New York City teachers, including on-site consulting, study groups, graduate seminars, online discussion groups, and summer institutes. The site also produces newsletters, handouts specific to reading/writing workshops, bibliographies, and monographs.

Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project, Pennsylvania

The National Reading Initiative team of the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) is building on its advanced reading institute, which is comprised of three strands: the examination by participants of themselves as readers of nonfiction; the development of classroom inquiry projects in expository reading and writing; and the building of content-area partnerships to inform approaches to reading and writing across the curriculum. The National Reading Initiative work expands on PAWLP's ongoing work in reading with teachers in mostly suburban and rural service areas in southeastern Pennsylvania, which includes summer institutes in teaching literature and courses and inservice programs on trends in reading instruction, reading across the curriculum, and reading/writing connections.

Santee-Wateree Writing Project, South Carolina

As part of the National Reading Initiative, the Santee-Wateree Writing Project is building on its history of professional development work in reading by creating an inquiry network of teachers to examine their practices in the teaching of nonfiction and expository texts. Through working with content-area teachers, offering grants to support teachers in following up on their inquiries in the classroom, and reading and reviewing reading texts and developing action plans based on these reviews, the Santee-Wateree Writing Project continues to deepen and expand its professional development offerings. Located in South Carolina and serving rural and suburban school districts, this site is focusing on building its capacity for leadership in inquiry-based professional development in reading.


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