National Writing Project

Quarterly Authors Win National Awards

By: NWP Staff
Publication: The Voice, Vol. 10, No. 3
Date: 2005

Summary: NWP's 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing and Todd Goodson's Quarterly essay "Teaching in the Time of Dogs" both won Distinguished Achievement Awards from the Association of Educational Publishers . . .


Untitled Document You can almost fit it in your pocket. It's smaller than a magazine, but packs the punch of a book. It's simple, yet gives teachers tools to help students plumb their creative depths.

It's the National Writing Project's 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing, which grabbed the first-place Distinguished Achievement Award in the Instructional Materials/Booklets category from the Association of Educational Publishers on June 8. Drawn from materials published in the NWP Quarterly, 30 Ideas incorporates the work of many authors—who should be considered de facto first-place winners.

Featuring strategies for improving student writing at all grade levels, the booklet includes tips such as ways to "practice and play with revision techniques," "establish an email dialogue between students from different schools who are reading the same book," and "make grammar instruction dynamic."

"At any given moment, there are hundreds of creative ideas at work in writing project teachers' classrooms. This format gave us a chance to collect 30 excellent teaching strategies in a succinct format that can be put to immediate use," said Art Peterson, NWP senior editor, who conceived and edited the publication.

NWP's 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing wasn't the only award winner from the writing project. Todd Goodson, who directs the Flint Hills Writing Project in Manhattan, Kansas, won the first-place 2005 Distinguished Achievement Award in the Editorial category for his Quarterly essay "Teaching in the Time of Dogs."

Goodson's piece describes how he arrived at school one day with his best-laid lesson plans—plans that didn't include a sobbing student. As he talked with his distraught pupil about the traumatic event she had witnessed, Goodson discovered that he could never completely plan anything in the classroom.

In discussing his pivotal experience, Goodson emphasizes that "the art of teaching, like the art of writing, lies as much in how we respond to the irregular as in how we plan to create regularity." That understanding leads Goodson to question current efforts to reform education. "The fundamental flaw of our contemporary model for school reform is this: It begins with what we want students to know, not with the students themselves."

Goodson, who was "a little stunned" when he heard his name called at the awards gala in Washington, D.C., said, "I tell this story to my education classes to drive home the point that you never know what to expect when you walk into a classroom. It's important to prepare your lesson plans, but you also have to be prepared for the things that you can't prepare for."

Other writing project authors also garnered nominations. "Writing a Bicycle," by Kathleen O'Shaughnessy, co-director of the National Writing Project of Acadiana (LA), was a finalist in the how-to feature category. The California Writing Project's booklet Because Writing Matters was a finalist in the booklet category.

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