National Writing Project

National Reading Initiative Keywords Project

By: Marcie Wolfe
Date: November 2007

Summary: Created by participants in the National Reading Initiative Lead Sites Project, this resource describes a process for involving educators in identifying and questioning a shared vocabulary for the study of reading.


Writing project sites beginning work with reading inevitably draw on a shared vocabulary of terms and concepts that characterize the field. But many of these terms—like the word reading itself—call up divergent and even contentious meanings for educators. As Marci Wolfe explains in the introduction to this resource, the lead sites in the National Reading Initiative felt a need to address the diversity of meanings, usages, and personal responses to the expansive vocabulary of the reading field.

Drawing on the idea of "keywords" as discussed by British cultural historian Raymond Williams, teacher-leaders developed a process for studying our shared vocabulary by surfacing images, ideas, and associations with our keywords. This adaptable resource demonstrates the process and provides a window into how it might serve a professional learning community interested in exploring its own keywords.

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