National Writing Project

National Reading Initiative Project

NRI Seed Sites Minigrants

In 2004, as part of the first phase of the National Reading Initiative, a cohort of twelve "seed" sites received minigrants of $4,000 to begin a local project or inquiry around reading comprehension and adolescent literacy.

Twelve Participating Sites

UC Irvine Writing Project, California

Building on the work of “The Pathway Project,” funded by the Department of Education, this site’s National Reading Initiative seed site team focused its work on teaching reading and writing to students who are mainstreamed English language learners in urban districts. Sixteen teachers wrote curriculum to supplement state-mandated textbooks, using a cognitive strategies approach applied to non-fiction materials. An instructional notebook was created for use in schools to provide a more systematic approach for struggling writers and readers.

Bluegrass Writing Project, Kentucky

Three writing project sites from the state of Kentucky—Morehead, Bluegrass, and Western Kentucky—have joined efforts by collaboratively working together on this seed site project to develop a plan of inservice work with a focus on reading to reach teachers throughout the state. During the summer of 2004, teams of teacher-consultants from each participating site attended Advanced Literacy Institutes at their home sites to build leadership capacity. During the summer of 2005, three of these TCs, one from each site, led a two-day workshop for teachers from all three regions. The workshop focused on content area reading, drawing parallels between the writing and reading processes. Building upon work done with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning in Louisville, and the Collaborative Center of Literacy Development in Lexington on a one-year literacy project, this National Reading Initiative grant is being used to strengthen collaborative work in reading across writing project sites in the state.

Morehead Writing Project, Kentucky

Three writing project sites from the state of Kentucky—Morehead, Bluegrass, and Western Kentucky—have joined efforts by collaboratively working together on this seed site project to develop a plan of inservice work with a focus on reading to reach teachers throughout the state. During the summer of 2004, teams of teacher-consultants from each participating site attended Advanced Literacy Institutes at their home sites to build leadership capacity. During the summer of 2005, three of these TCs, one from each site, led a two-day workshop for teachers from all three regions. The workshop focused on content area reading, drawing parallels between the writing and reading processes. Building upon work done with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning in Louisville, and the Collaborative Center of Literacy Development in Lexington on a one-year literacy project, this National Reading Initiative grant is being used to strengthen collaborative work in reading across writing project sites in the state.

Western Kentucky University Writing Project, Kentucky

Three writing project sites from the state of Kentucky—Morehead, Bluegrass, and Western Kentucky—have joined efforts by collaboratively working together on this seed site project to develop a plan of inservice work with a focus on reading to reach teachers throughout the state. During the summer of 2004, teams of teacher-consultants from each participating site attended Advanced Literacy Institutes at their home sites to build leadership capacity. During the summer of 2005, three of these TCs, one from each site, led a two-day workshop for teachers from all three regions. The workshop focused on content area reading, drawing parallels between the writing and reading processes. Building upon work done with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning in Louisville, and the Collaborative Center of Literacy Development in Lexington on a one-year literacy project, this National Reading Initiative grant is being used to strengthen collaborative work in reading across writing project sites in the state.

Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project, Louisiana

The Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project National Reading Initiative seed site team formed a year-long study group made up of teachers from diverse grade levels and parishes in Southeastern Louisiana around issues of reading and informational texts. Following this year-long series of meetings, a conference planned by the NRI team and the Louisiana state network featured guest speaker Jeffrey Wilhelm and a number of round tables focusing on the teaching of reading and reflective writing led by teacher-consultants. Plans are underway for continued work next year to bring together a larger group of high school and college teachers who will teach a common text, study the text and ways of teaching it together, examine student work, and then reflect on outcomes.

Maryland Writing Project, Maryland

The National Reading Initiative seed site team at the Maryland Writing Project initiated a school-based study group of English teachers in Charles County, Maryland. Participants in the study group received complimentary books on the teaching and learning of reading including When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do by Kylene Beers and Differentiation of Instruction in the English Classroom: Content, Process, Product, and Assessment by Alyce Hunter and Barbara King-Shaver. Study group members met five times throughout the year to discuss these books. Between meetings, they applied strategies and ideas in their classrooms and met informally to share results. In addition, teachers purchased books for classroom libraries and surveyed students for topics of interest.

Western Massachusetts Writing Project, Massachusetts

This National Reading Initiative (NRI) seed site team formed an inquiry group comprised of teachers from the region’s two largest urban districts, Springfield and Holyoke, to focus on reading informational texts in grades 4-12. Facilitated by two teacher-consultants, the group explored best practices as well as books about teaching reading, including: L. Robb’s Teaching Reading in Middle School; K. Beers’s When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do; C. Tovani’s I Read It But I Don’t Get It; and J. Wilhelm and M. Smith’s Reading Don’t Fix No Chevy’s. Meetings continued through the school year with a focus on expanding the WMWP website to include information developed by the site’s NRI work. (Visit the WMWP NRI website to view.) Plans are currently underway to continue working with teachers in area schools and to disseminate what has been learned at conferences.

Meadow Brook Writing Project, Michigan

Working in conjunction with the Mi CLASS (Michigan Content Literacy Assessments, Standards, and Strategies) program in Michigan, this National Reading Initiative seed site project was planned to support middle and high school teachers to become teacher-researchers in their classrooms by looking closely at how students are developing and using comprehension strategies, especially with informational texts. Of particular interest is the way in which students make the transition from elementary levels to middle school levels and from middle school levels to high school levels. There are plans to share findings at the district level, with Meadow Brook Writing Project teacher-consultants, and with the Mi CLASS project.

Minnesota Writing Project, Minnesota

As part of the National Reading Initiative Seed Site Project, the Minnesota Writing Project team formed a study group to address literacy issues in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Following a two-day summer retreat, the study group met for three additional half-days to share progress on action research projects focused on the teaching of reading. To disseminate what was learned, the teachers in the study group are preparing presentations to the Minnesota Writing Project and to participants in their writing project site’s summer invitational institute. Due to an increase of interest in area high schools, additional work focusing on the teaching of reading comprehension and informational text is being planned for the fall.

Prairie Lands Writing Project, Missouri

This National Reading Initiative seed site project included a week-long, inquiry-based professional development institute entitled the Textual Illumination Project (TIP). Here, content-area teacher leaders focused on their roles, processes and habits as readers inside and outside the classroom setting. During follow-up sessions, teachers used this knowledge to inform and enhance classroom practices and instruction in the teaching of reading. In addition to TIP, the NRI site team created two professional learning communities. Members met bi-monthly throughout the school year to analyze student work related to reading, to identify best practices for reading instruction, and to function as action research collaborators, assessing their own strategies and classroom innovations for teaching reading. A Web-based newsletter highlighting teacher work was also produced. Plans to extend this work are currently underway.

Rhode Island Writing Project, Rhode Island

This National Reading Initiative seed grant was used to extend the Rhode Island Writing Project’s Title II federal granted program “New Approaches to Reading and Writing in the Secondary Content Areas.” This program involves twenty content area teachers for a two-week summer institute followed by a semester of regularly scheduled meetings for dissemination of summer work throughout participating schools. The site is currently writing about its findings in relation to teaching reading in urban and urban ring schools in Rhode Island that will be used to inform the NWP network at large. Plans are in place to continue this work in its teachers-teaching-teachers design.

Eastern Virginia Writing Project, Virginia

The Eastern Virginia Writing Project, in conjunction with the Newport News Public Schools, proposed an innovative inservice program that focuses on improving the Virginia Standards of Learning Test Scores at the middle school level through reading and writing strategies. The program was developed and piloted in a high needs middle school in eastern Virginia. Following a full-day inservice program for eighty teachers in all content areas, a course was offered for sixteen teachers in five subject areas. Focusing on reading and writing informational texts, participants explored case studies, studied a variety of assessments, and developed instructional units. Following each class session, teachers implemented assessments or instructional strategies in their own classrooms and shared their observations with colleagues. Plans are already underway to conduct another course or inservice series for middle school teachers in the summer and fall of 2005.

Questions

For more information, contact Tanya Baker at tbaker@nwp.org.
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