National Writing Project

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Teaching Writing - General Resources on Teaching Writing

Additional Resources

Teaching Resources for the Presidential Election

August 2012
These resources have been selected to help you and your students learn about the 2012 presidential election and the issues at stake. More ›

A Literacy Education for Our Times

English Journal, August 2011
Rick VanDeWeghe
Richard VanDeWeghe, director of the Denver Writing Project, discusses English teachers' attempts to engender a "capacity to understand other perspectives and cultures" in their students, a skill that's emphasized in the Common Core Standards. More ›

Ernest Morrell on Navigating Urban Literacies

August 2011
Ernest Morrell, education professor and former Bay Area Writing Project teacher-consultant, examined the relationships between language, literacy, culture, and power in society in his keynote speech at the 2011 Urban Sites Network Conference. More ›

Opening the Door to Discourse: Cooperation, Authority, and the Inner-City High School Writing Center

June 2011
Alaina Feltenberger discusses making high school writing centers a reality within inner-city high schools. More ›

Writing Center Resources

June 2011
This collection of NWP articles introduces readers interested in the core issues and possibilities of developing student-staffed writing centers. More ›

Book Review: Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning

May 2011
Renee Hobbs of Temple University's Media Education Lab identifies copyright issues that will help students use sources in transformative, creative, and legal ways. More ›

Writing and the Brain: Neuroscience Shows the Pathways to Learning

May 2011
Judy Willis, a neurologist and teacher-consultant with the South Coast Writing Project, explains how the teaching of writing is important for learning based on neuroimaging and brain mapping. More ›

"Irreproachable Suggestions" in Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing

March 2011
Washington Examiner columnist and seasoned teacher Erica Jacobs examines how Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing will make a difference in the way students write in this series of articles. More ›

Planning for Writing Instruction

February 2011
In this excerpt from Mark Overmeyer's When Writing Workshop Isn't Working, the author discusses the process of planning for an entire year of writing instruction. Overmeyer is a teacher-consultant with the Denver Writing Project. More ›

Book Review: Building the English Classroom: Foundations, Support, Success

February 2011
Kathleen Godfrey
Bruce Penniman, the former director of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, has written a book that is a treasure trove of ideas for teachers committed to creating unscripted curriculum that acknowledges them as thoughtful, creative professionals. More ›

Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing

February 2011
Developed collaboratively with representatives from the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project, Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing describes the rhetorical and twenty-first-century skills that are critical for college success. More ›

The Written Word

December 2010
Elizabeth Rich
Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook editor Elizabeth Rich interviews NWP's Director of National Programs and Site Development, focusing on the connection between the Writing Project and "differentiation," and how the philosophy of the Writing Project can help teachers individualize instruction. More ›

Writing Project Teacher Blogs for The New York Times

December 2010
Amanda Christy Brown, a teacher-consultant with the Boston Writing Project, takes daily news articles and transforms them into lesson plans that she blogs about for the New York Times' blog The Learning Network. More ›

Book Review: Noise from the Writing Center

November 2010
Cindy Dean
Cindy Dean, University of Maine Writing Project teacher-consultant and director of a high school writing center, reflects on Elizabeth Boquet's theory of "writing center noise" and its applicability to high school writing centers. More ›

Julie Johnson: The Evolution of a Model Writing Teacher in a Model Writing School

October 2010
Art Peterson
After entering the Columbus Area Writing Project summer institute unsure of her skills as a writing teacher, Julie Johnson achieves an NCTE Award, founds a Model Writing School, and creates a blog used by other writing teachers. More ›

Remembering Donald H. Graves

October 2010
The National Writing Project remembers Donald H. Graves, a pioneer in education whose work influenced countless Writing Project teachers over several decades. More ›

A Thousand Writers Writing: Seeking Change through the Radical Practice of Writing as a Way of Being

July 2010
Robert Yagelski
Robert Yagelski, director of the New York Capital District Writing Project, discusses the transformative power of writing as an act in and of itself as he reevaluates the traditional motivations for teaching writing in schools. Yagelski won the 2010 Janet Emig Award from NCTE for this article, given for exemplary scholarship in an article published in English Education. More ›

Spotlight on the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers

July 2010
The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers—with the help from Writing Project sites and state networks—works to identify, motivate, and recognize the next generation of artists and writers. More ›

Book Review: Using Picture Books to Teach Writing with the Traits: K-2

June 2010
Janet Bassett
Janet Basset, a teacher-consultant with the Oklahoma State Writing Project, discusses how this book's 150 annotations of new and classic picture books can be used with teacher-tested lesson plans to teach seven writing traits. More ›

Book Review: Immigrant Students and Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Remembering

June 2010
Stephanie Paterson
Stephanie Paterson, co-director of the Great Valley Writing Project, which is in the same Central California region where Gerald Campano taught and did his research, finds his book an inspiration in the ways it links inquiry, pedagogy, and social justice issues. More ›

Teachers Are the Center of Education: Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age

May 2010
Teachers Are the Center of Education is part of a series of reports highlighting the importance of teachers and the quality of their work. This report features eight Writing Project teachers by spotlighting their innovative use of digital tools for writing and learning. More ›

Writing to Read: A Collection of NWP Articles

May 2010
NWP has published a number of articles about the need to have students write about text, learn skills to create text, and write regularly to develop literacy—strategies in support of the recommendations of Writing to Read, a report from the Carnegie Corporation. More ›

Writing Project Sites Get Involved in The Best Teen Writing

May 2010
Art Peterson
One of the highest honors that teen writers can receive is publication in The Best Teen Writing. Writing Project sites are becoming increasingly involved in evaluating the writing in their region as affiliates of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, which publishes the anthology. More ›

Writing Centers: More Than Remediation

May 2010
Art Peterson
Jennifer Wells, a teacher-consultant with the Central California Writing Project, writes about the establishment of a writing center at her high school and advises educators on how to create writing centers that are hubs of writing for writers of all levels. More ›

Book Review: How Writers Grow: A Guide for Middle School Teachers

April 2010
Lynn Jacobs
Lynn Jacobs, a teacher-consultant with the Northern California Writing Project, finds innovative ideas in How Writers Grow that will help new or veteran teachers develop the writer within every child. More ›

Book Review: Literacy and Learning: Reflections on Writing, Reading, and Society

March 2010
Elizabeth Radin Simons
Elizabeth Radin Simons reviews Deborah Brandt's collected essays on the dramatic changes in "literacy sponsorship" over the last century and the implications for teaching and learning literacy today. More ›

Book Review: Rehearsing New Roles: How College Students Develop as Writers

February 2010
David Pulling
David Pulling, a teacher-consultant with the National Writing Project of Acadiana (LA), explains how Rehearsing New Roles changed his view of freshman composition from seeing it as the foundation for becoming a college writer to understanding it as a "point along the way." More ›

Listening to the Sounds of Silence in the Classroom

January 2010
Art Peterson
Spring Meeting keynote speaker Katherine Schultz suggests that teachers take a nuanced view toward classroom silence, understanding its complex functions and regarding it as a form of participation. More ›

Book Review: Plagiarism: Why It Happens—How to Prevent It

January 2010
Laura Brownell
Laura Brownell, a teacher-consultant at Red Cedar Writing Project, reviews a book about plagiarism that examines the motivation behind student plagiarism and presents a preventative approach—with an abundance of suggestions and ready-to-use resources—for teachers to use with their students. More ›

Redefining Text, Redefined Me

January 2010
Belinda Foster
Belinda Foster, a teacher-consultant with the Area 3 Writing Project (CA), connects her experience as a person living with ADHD to a teaching style that recognizes the strengths of every student and encourages varied ways of building on those strengths. More ›

Teaching Labs and Teacher-Leaders

January 2010
Michael Weller
Michael Weller, a teacher-consultant with the Los Angles Writing Project, details the multifaceted opportunities the writing project has provided him: a chance to teach in a young writers camp, a classroom focused on writing workshop principles, and a role as a faculty leader. More ›

Writing Improves African American Students' Grades

Science Daily, January 2010
This article describes research that supports the claim that targeted psychological intervention, in the form of writing that encourages self-affirmation, has the effect of improving the academic performance of African American students. More ›

Help Your Child Build Writing Skills, January 2010
Shelbie Witte of the Florida State University Writing Project shares her list of practical strategies for helping children become better writers. More ›

Spotlight on Think It Ink It: They Supply the Pictures, Kids Supply the Story

January 2010
Art Peterson
Think It Ink It creates illustrated books that children themselves write—beginning with wordless picture books that encourage both reading and writing. More ›

Book Review: Reading for Their Life

Michael W. Smith
In this foreword to Alfred Tatum's Reading for Their Life, Michael W. Smith, former director of the NWP at Rutgers Writing Project, urges readers to read Tatum's book as a call to action, and for us to heed it. More ›

Helping English Teachers Thrive and Lead

The Council Chronicle, March 2010
Lorna Collier
This profile of the practice of Bruce Penniman, former co-director of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, focuses on Penniman's ideas regarding planning, assessment, flexibility, curricula, technology, "paper load," and professional development. More ›

NWP in Person: Writing Project Authors Discuss Their Books

November 2010
NWP authors share thoughts about the research and philosophies behind their latest books—which cover a wide variety of subjects, ranging from student writing and social justice, to technology in the classroom, to practitioner research. More ›

Book Review: Bright Beginnings for Boys: Engaging Young Boys in Active Literacy

December 2009
Martha Garner-Duhe
For teachers who are concerned about male underachievement in literacy, Bright Beginnings for Boys illuminates and analyzes learning differences between young boys and girls while proposing positive strategies for working with boys in the early years. More ›

Book Review: Writing with Families

December 2009
Susan Stuber
Art Kelly's book offers a model for engaging families in learning together through family writing groups, benefiting each participant and creating a meaningful partnership between home and school. More ›

The National Commission on Writing and College Board Series of Reports

November 2009
In an effort to focus national attention on the teaching and learning of writing, the College Board established the National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges. The Commission and the College Board have published a series of reports on the importance of high-quality writing instruction. More ›

Book Review: Genre Theory: Teaching, Writing, and Being by Deborah Dean

October 2009
Tom Fox
Deborah Dean, director of the Central Utah Writing Project, shows how exploring genre theory can help teachers energize their classroom practices—and help students understand their language and texts in social interactions that constitute genres. More ›

Steve Graham on the Importance of Learning to Write Well

June 2009
In the context of introducing a structure that helps those learning writing to "self-regulate," Vanderbilt University Professor Steve Graham speaks of techniques for modeling, providing feedback, and teaching peer revising, collaborative writing, and grammar. He also praises the work of the National Writing Project. More ›

Writing in the 21st Century: Writing between the Lines and Everywhere Else

April 2009
This report, one of a series from NCTE calling for support for 21st century writing instruction, concludes that 21st century literacy demands technological proficiency, collaborative problem solving skills, and an ability to work with multiple streams of information and multimedia texts. More ›

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

April 2009
This code, developed especially for the educational community, supports educators in making thoughtful decisions about interpreting the copyright doctrine of fair use to support media literacy education. More ›

Responsible Citizenship in a Global Environment

April 2009
Jacqueline Jones Royster
In her keynote speech at the 2009 NWP Spring Meeting, Jacqueline Jones Royster, professor of English at The Ohio State University, discusses how teachers have the responsibility of being agents and enablers of both stability and change. More ›

English Teachers Find an Online Friend: the English Companion Ning

March 2009
Grant Faulkner
The English Companion Ning brings English teachers a professional community that they sometimes lack in their schools. Teachers discuss books, lesson plans, and a panoply of classroom topics via discussion forums, blog posts, and multimedia. More ›

The Importance of Resiliency in Learning and Writing

February 2009
Art Peterson
Bonnie Benard discusses the role that schools and communities play in supporting the biological drive for normal human development and triumphing over adversity: resiliency. More ›

Jacqueline Jones Royster Discusses Citizenship in a Global Environment

January 2009
Art Peterson
Jacqueline Jones Royster, professor of English at The Ohio State University, explores the connection between literacy and the public good, and advances these goals. More ›

What Is Happening in the Teaching of Writing?

English Journal, May 2009
The authors analyze data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) spanning the years 1969–2007. They draw conclusions about writing proficiency, the amount of time devoted to writing and the teaching of writing, the frequency of writing in academic subjects, and the amount and quality of professional development—calling attention to the impact of NWP. More ›

Book Review: Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children's Literature K–6

December 2008
Lisa Light
Mentor Texts, written by two writing project teacher-consultants, offers explicit ideas, clear models, and inspiration for teaching writing to students in kindergarten through middle school. More ›

Book Review: Three Books Frame Content Area Literacy in Discussion of 21st Century Literacies

October 2008
Ken Martin
Three books on content area literacy instruction aim to help teachers think about the literacy demands of all content areas while framing their arguments in a larger discussion of 21st century literacies. More ›

NWP Collaborates to Publish Early Literacy Activity Book—Our Book By Us!/Nuestro Libro ¡Hecho Por Nosotros!

June 2008
A new hands-on book for preschoolers provides parents and caregivers with a resource in English and Spanish that engages young children in reading and writing to support their early literacy development. More ›

Feminist Pedagogy Is for Everybody: Troubling Gender in Reading and Writing

English Journal, 2008
The authors, who come from the Montana Writing Project, the National Writing Project at Kent State University, and the National Writing Project, describe classroom strategies that allow students of both genders opportunities to discuss issues of sexism and work for transformation while confronting these concerns. More ›

Book Review: Teaching with Fire and Leading from Within, both edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner

August 2008
Caroline Griswold
Caroline Griswold reviews Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach and Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead, and finds that the books succeed in their intention to sustain and inspire those in serving professions. More ›

Michigan Sites Collaborate on Book Project

May 2008
The Michigan state network of sites partnered with the Michigan Reading Association to publish a book focusing on the examination of student work as a starting point for teaching writing. Six chapters by teacher-consultants are included here. More ›

Book Review: A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers: Grades 6–12

December 2007
Stephen Gordon
This book by Richard Kent provides a thorough how-to guide for teachers interested in starting student-staffed writing centers in their schools. More ›

Handbook of Research on Writing, Edited by Charles Bazerman

July 2007
Charles Bazerman
The Handbook of Research on Writing advances the field by aggregating broad-ranging, interdisciplinary, multidimensional strands of writing research into a common intellectual space. More ›

A Little Praise, a Very Long Way

The Voice, 2005
Heather Hollands
Heather Hollands tells the story of her tenth grade student Joey, who hated to write. Her encouragement, along with an assignment that captured his imagination, transformed him into a budding young writer. More ›

Southside Elementary Writing Focus: Site-Based Leadership Reforms the Writing Curriculum

National Writing Project At Work, March 2005
Nancy Remington, Robert McGinty
The story of an inquiry-centered approach to professional development, designed and led by teachers, that could be a model for any school. More ›

Leap of Faith

The Voice, 2004
Kristen Hawley Turner
Turner describes how her mother, a veteran English teacher, mentored her in the seemingly impossible task of mastering writing. Now an English teacher herself, Turner mentors students to help them achieve their own writing success. More ›

When Writing Gets Real (by the “Fellow Who Collected Rejections”)

The Voice, May-June 2003
Richard Hartwell
When Hartwell's students complained about the California testing cycle, he asked them to direct their complaints to the California Department of Education (CDE) in the form of business letters. More ›

Walking the Walk with Baby Steps

The Voice, March-April 2002
Kris Parsons
After feeling like many of her classroom innovations were disasters, Parsons realizes that by starting small, and building on insights about what is working and why, she can become the teacher she wants to be. More ›

Conformity Meets Creativity

The Voice, May-June 2002
Kathy Woods
Junior high students can be tough to teach, but Kathy Woods shows how writing can break down their defensiveness and reveal a different side. More ›

The Diversity of Writing

The Quarterly, Spring 2002
Charles Bazerman
Bazerman writes of the various things writers do with words, describing a trajectory as writers enters a complex and deepening engagement with a "symbolic environment" that coincides with the culture's social, economic, and civic possibilities. More ›

Jump the Track

The Voice, March-April 2001
Jane Hancock
Hancock recounts how her ostensibly low-performing students managed to hold their own when held to a higher standard, despite bureaucratic efforts to the contrary. More ›

Our Writing Lives: Steeltown Sister

The Voice, May-June 2001
Walt Peterson
Sister Eugene, a tough-as-nails big-hearted nun in Pittsburgh's St. Michael's High School, shows one future writing project teacher that inspiration comes in many forms . . . and is found where it is needed. More ›

Fifteen Minutes of Fame: A Lifetime of Memories

The Voice, November-December 2001
Dorothy Franklin
When Franklin and her seventh grade class were invited to participate in a documentary, she worried that the cameras and microphones would stifle classroom participation. Instead, the experience raised her students' self-esteem and expectations for themselves. More ›

I Am Professor McGonagall

The Voice, November-December 2001
Karen Brown
For Harry Potter, turning a desk into a pig first starts with turning matches into needles. For Brown, the magic is helping her students turn commas, capitalization, and periods into graceful works of prose. More ›

Works in Progress: First-Year College Students after EN101

The Quarterly, Spring 2001
Helen Collins Sitler
Sitler wonders whether her first-year college students are transferring the writing knowledge they take from her class to new contexts when they leave it. Her study concludes that they are making appropriate transfers. More ›

A Voice That Is Heard: Living the Writing Project Philosophy as Coaches

The Quarterly, Summer 2001
Sidnie Myrick
Myrick describes how the key to successful coaching is the belief that a coach is no more and no less than a partner in this process. More ›

Apples for the Teacher

The Voice, March-April 2000
Emmet Rosenfeld
Rosenfeld describes how "an apple from the teacher" can inspire student writing in a variety of forms. More ›

Writing Teachers Wear Many Hats

The Voice, March-April 2000
NWP teachers find metaphors for their writing roles, including fireman, doctor, coach, and contractor. More ›

Note-Taking and Note-Making in Freshman Composition

The Quarterly, Winter 2000
Mark Farrington
Teaching writing in a college class linked to a psychology course, Farrington discovers that by requiring students to read the text before they attend the lecture he can convert them from "note-takers" to "note-makers." More ›

What Coaching Football Taught Me about Teaching Writing

The Voice, November-December 1999
Dan Holt
Like a football coach, writes Holt, a writing teacher can't stand on the sidelines. A teacher should get excited about student writing the way a coach gets excited about a game. More ›

Mina P. Shaughnessey: Her Life and Work, by Jane Maher

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Melanie Hammer
Hammer reviews this biography of the influential author of Errors and Expectations, finding that Maher creates a three-dimensional portrait of the woman who was in some ways "the mother of all developmental educators." More ›

Teaching the Most Important Things

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Don Gallehr
Gallehr says the most important things he teaches are "love of writing, learning the writer's mind, fitting the writing into your dream, and building on what works." More ›

Book Review: In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning, by Atwell

The Quarterly, Fall 1998
Chris Street
Street finds this new edition of Atwell's book to be thorough in every respect, from its detailing of minilessons to its inclusion of 17 appendices. More ›

Sounding Board: The Writing Teacher as Confidant

The Quarterly, Spring 1997
Coleen Armstrong
Armstrong sees her job not just as correcting grammar and spelling but also as reassuring students, offering support, and providing a safe sounding board for them. More ›

Seeing Students, Seeing Culture, Seeing Ourselves

Voices from the Middle, September 1996
Jane Zeni, Joan Krater
The authors of this article devise strategies to improve the writing skills of their African-American students. They learn that the most important of these is "getting to know our kids and letting them know us." More ›

The More Things Change...Or Do They?

The Quarterly, Spring 1996
Excerpts from Brereton's collection of documents, The Origins of Composition Studies in the American College, 1875–1925: A Documentary History, demonstrate that hotly debated issues surrounding compositions instruction 100 years ago are still with us. More ›

One Teacher's Timeless Resolutions

The Voice, Summer 1996
Carol Jago
Jago promises herself to return every parent phone call, avoid sarcasm, "read in class when my students are reading," and more. More ›

The Sound of Shackles Shaking: Toward Student-Centered Writing

The Quarterly, Winter 1994
Joan Martens
Martens realizes that imposition of writing agendas on her students contributes to their apathy. She moves toward a student-centered classroom and takes a deeper responsibility for what happens in our society and in her life. More ›

Turning Telling into Knowing: Teacher and Student Literacy Stories

The Quarterly, Fall 1993
Margrethe Ahlschwede, Joy Ritchie
The authors, directors of the Literacy Project for teachers, encouraged teachers to write their own reading and writing histories and look closely at their students' histories and daily practices as readers and writers. More ›

Writers' Workshop in the Primary Grades

The Quarterly, Winter 1993
Liz Stafford
In a case study, Stafford describes how writing and writing workshop were the central dynamic for reducing a student's anger and building that student's feelings of security. More ›

Writing on Your Own: It's Lighter on You

The Quarterly, Spring 1991
Carla Asher
Asher investigates how her students' understanding of what writing is and what it's for was at variance with that of writing done in the culture of the school. How was it different? More ›

Journal Partners

The Quarterly, Summer 1990
Stephen Jubb
Jubb describes his students and the journal partnering strategy he brings to his classroom. He advocates journaling as providing an opportunity for student success, individualizing curriculum, and encouraging students to make meaning for themselves. More ›

Book Review: In the Middle, by Nancie Atwell

The Quarterly, January 1988
Barbara Grant
Grant reviews the first edition of Atwell's classic, stating, "Atwell's teaching practices involve dangers because in her classroom the student's role changes through acquiring ownership of the reading and writing process." More ›

“Whose Writing is it Anyway”? Kids Love To Write...Don't Wait Until They Read

The Quarterly, June 1986
Diane Borgman
Borgman describes the joy of working with kindergarten writers entirely unburdened by the bogeyman of first–draft correctness. As these children cannot read, they have no sense that their writing and spelling are not correct. More ›

What Do We Teach When We Teach Writing?

The Quarterly, June 1986
Carol Booth Olson
Olson finds no answer to this question. "A teacher's job is to empower students to tap their natural [language] resources—not to put language into their heads, but to help them express what's already there." More ›

Metaphor, Self-Image and the Writing Teacher

The Quarterly, March 1986
Agnes McDonald
McDonald shows how "we can use metaphor to help us restructure our thinking and radically change our teaching styles and the way we approach everything we do in the classroom." More ›

The Other Lesson: Teaching What We Don't Know

The Quarterly, January 1985
Kim Stafford
Stafford distinguishes between "overt" lessons—what the teacher is asking the student to do—and "covert" lessons—the implied learning in the assignment, for good or bad, that goes beyond the teacher's strategy and instructions. More ›

"Only Connect..." The Bridge of Expressive Writing

The Quarterly, July 1985
Katherine E. Alton, Susan Stitham
The writers analyze the symbiotic relationship between expressive and transactional writing: "Through expressive writing students are able to find their voice and thoughts in preparation for transactional writing that honestly and clearly discusses ideas." More ›

Writing and the Teaching of Thinking Skills

The Quarterly, November 1985
Sheridan Blau
Blau proposes ways to foster more mature, more complex, more discriminating, more critical, and more penetrating thought on the part of students. More ›

Some Impractical Suggestions for Renewal

The Quarterly, June 1983
Rexford Brown
Brown suggests some "optimal conditions" for learning: a healthy student, a student and teacher who trust and respect each other, a teacher who is sensitive to individual student needs, and more. More ›


The Quarterly, November 1983
Don Gallehr
Gallehr argues that a knowledge of theory makes it possible for teachers to generalize and rationalize their work as they carry the same understandings into a range of strategies and assignments. More ›

Contracting Texts

The Quarterly, March 1979
James Drickey
Drickey explains his technique of "contracting texts," a variation on précis writing, as a way of teaching the clear thinking essential to competent writing. More ›

30 Ideas for Teaching Writing

Few sources available today offer writing teachers such succinct, practice-based help—which is one reason why 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing was the winner of the Association of Education Publishers 2005 Distinguished Achievement Award for Instructional Materials. More ›

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