National Writing Project

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Teaching Writing - Writing in the Community

Additional Resources

Building Better Bridges: What Makes High School-College WAC Collaborations Work?

The WAC Journal, July 2012
Jacob Blumner, Pamela Childers
As high school teachers work with college professors to better prepare students for writing across the curriculum, ensuring the success of these unions becomes a key issue. Following a workshop examining past and present partnerships and studying responses from participants, Jacob Blumner and Pamela Childers report what makes successful collaborations and how they can be replicated. More ›

The Successful High School Writing Center

This book highlights the work of talented writing center teachers who share practices and lessons learned from today's most important high school writing centers. The authors offer innovative methods for secondary educators who deal with adolescent literacy, English language learners, new literacies, embedded professional development, and differentiated instruction. More ›

Engaging Parents Beyond Back-to-School Night

November 2010
National Family Literacy Day, November 1, focuses on special activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. NWP offers these resources to help parents, educators, and students celebrate the effort. More ›

Writing for the Public: Teacher Editorializing as a Pathway to Professional Development

October 2010
Jonna Perrillo
Jonna Perrillo, director of the West Texas Writing Project, explores the benefit to teachers, schools, and the community of her Editorial Project, which provides a pathway for teachers to move from classroom questions to published editorials. More ›

826 Reinvents the Writing Center

July 2010
Gavin Tachibana
826 centers across the country have created a different notion of what a writing center is, and partnerships between local Writing Project sites and chapters of 826 National are helping students become better writers, and for some, published authors. More ›

Karen Hamlin: Evolution of a Teacher

June 2010
Karen Hamlin, co-director of the Oregon Writing Project at Willamette, has initiated a program for Willamette teachers that allows them to visit the Galapagos Islands to teach English and ecology and study Spanish. More ›

Baltimore’s Youth Dreamers Have a Home: The Dream House

May 2010
Art Peterson
A cadre of Baltimore middle school students dreamed that they could help their urban neighborhood with a house where young kids could be mentored and participate in fun activities—and they made that dream a reality. More ›

Book Review: Teaching for Joy and Justice: Re-imagining the Language Arts Classroom

February 2010
Vanessa Brown
Vanessa Brown, director of the Philadelphia Writing Project, outlines how Linda Christensen uses her critical pedagogy to confront the challenges of high-stakes curricular mandates for schools while promoting social justice with and for her students. More ›

Linda Christensen: Social Justice, Teaching Writing, and Teaching Teachers

February 2010
Pamela Morgan
Linda Christensen, site director, educator, and author, explores what it means to teach writing across the margins of life—and teach teachers—through the lens of social justice. 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 ›

Teen Poets Give Teacher Hope for Central California City

The Salinas Californian, December 2009
Teacher-consultant Natalie Bernasconi writes a moving op-ed about Teen Salinas Slam, a poetry competition and open mic for teen poets, organized in part by the Central California Writing Project and local students. More ›

The Literary Map of Santo Domingo: Mapping Cultural Change

October 2009
Meg Petersen
With the aid of a Google map, the author leads her Dominican students to write about urban places often dismissed by Dominican writers as being too close to home to be interesting. In the process, they learn how to be writers. More ›

DC Area Teacher-Consultant Blogs for Family Literacy

September 2009
Art Peterson
A Washington, DC area teacher-consultant establishes a newspaper-supported blog that promotes both family literacy and the writing project. More ›

“Powerful Continuity”: Leveraging Lessons of the LSRI Experience

September 2009
Marilyn McKinney
The Southern Nevada Writing Project's research of its Family Writing Project revealed three different areas that could have implications for the future of all of its continuity programs: developing a culture of writing, developing community, and developing professional efficacy. More ›

The Family Writing Project: Creating Space for Sustaining Teacher Identity

National Council of Teachers of English, 2008
Marilyn McKinney, Rosemary Holmes-Gull, Saralyn Lasley
The writers, all with the Southern Nevada Writing Project, argue that family writing projects help develop a writing culture, nurture authentic writing and democratic practice, build relationships between students and teachers, counter teacher burnout, and help develop teacher leadership. More ›

A Moment of Understanding: Getting on the Bus of Justice

April 2008
Jan M. Sabin
In this chapter from Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning through Student Work, Jan Sabin, who is with the Upper Peninsula Writing Project, demonstrates how she pushes her second graders to write about social justice issues by focusing on familiar things like the cafeteria, the playground, and their homes. More ›

Utah Writing Project Creates Writing Group for Veterans

August 2008
The Wasatch Range Writing Project (Utah) reached out into the community with a writing workshop for veterans that has produced poignant and therapeutic writing. The workshop could expand and serve as good training for teacher–consultants. More ›

“I’m a Writer Now!” The Who, Where, and When of an ELL Newspaper

The Quarterly, 2005
Joe Bellino
Bellino, a teacher of English language learners, describes the process of publishing a newspaper written by his students and talks about how this paper has positively affected readers, writers, and the school. More ›

Voces del Corazón: Voices from the Heart

The Quarterly, 2005
Dolores S. Perez
NWP Project Outreach member Dolores Perez was committed to facilitating, in her low-income community, the project's goals of "access, relevance, and diversity." Her pursuit of these goals led to Family Literacy Night. More ›

Writing Outside the Bars: A Journey of Self-Discovery

The Quarterly, 2005
Maureen Geraghty, Jevon Jackson
Geraghty came to know Jackson, a convicted murderer at age sixteen, when she taught him in a juvenile detention center. Their writing exchange documents the power of writing in even the most desperate situations. More ›

I Can't See You, But I Know You: An Intergenerational Literacy Program

The Quarterly, 2004
Anne DiPardo, Pat Schnack
The authors describe an intergenerational literacy program in which senior-citizen volunteers and eighth-graders engaged in joint literacy activities. More ›

No More Fear and Loathing: The Family Writing Project in Las Vegas

The Quarterly, 2004
Arthur Kelly
Kelly, who created a family writing project to involve busy parents in their children's education, answers questions about starting a family writing project and describes activities he uses to get families writing together. More ›

The Family Writing Project Builds a Learning Community in Connecticut

The Quarterly, 2004
Valerie Diane Bolling
Connecticut teacher Bolling describes how, through NWP's Project Outreach, she learned of the Family Writing Project in Nevada and used this structure to help her school strengthen literacy and increase parent involvement. More ›

San Diego Team Pegged for Moffett Award

The Voice, March-April 2003
Art Peterson
Three San Diego Area Writing Project teachers are recipients of the 2002 James Moffett Memorial Award. The teachers developed action-research projects that reflect the spirit of Moffett's work. More ›

Book Review: School's Out! by Glynda Hull and Katherine Schultz

The Quarterly, Spring 2003
Monie Hayes
Hayes find this book's greatest strength to be the "solid attention it gives to the growing body of research into out-of-school literacies and their relationship to scholastic goals." More ›

How Our Assumptions Affect Our Expectations

The Quarterly, Spring 2003
Jan Hillskemper
Hillskemper reminds us that teachers can drift into a set of misguided assumptions when they mistakenly believe that parents have the same values and expectations that they have. More ›

The Spirit of Volunteerism in English Composition

The Quarterly, Spring 2003
Jim Wilcox
"Teacher, you changed my life." Most teachers do not hear these words often, but then few classes make changing lives a goal in the way that Jim Wilcox's does. More ›

Book Review: Reinventing English: Teaching in the Contact Zone, by John Gaughan

The Quarterly, Winter 2003
Jack Caswell
Caswell finds Gaughan's ideas about teaching in an area where values and beliefs can clash innovative but impractical in real-world classrooms. More ›

Youth Dreamers Put Social Action Principles to Work

The Voice, March-April 2002
Art Peterson
A group of students in Baltimore are working hard toward their ambitious goal of buying a house to serve as a community center for their neighborhood. More ›

The Writing on the Walls

The Voice, May-June 2002
Jackie Wesson
Looking for a way to involve the community in their literacy efforts, Jackie Wesson describes how the Mobile Bay Writing Project developed The Writing on the Walls, a weeklong writing fair that celebrates literacy. More ›

Some People Are Brave

The Voice, September-October 2002
Carl Nagin
Before September 11, Dawn Imamoto's second-graders had been working on a bravery unit, which she then used to help students create a publication based on their understanding of bravery in the context of the events of that day. More ›

Writing to Build Community in a Time of Stress

The Voice, September-October 2002
Sarah Robbins
Robbins describes the work of the program Keeping and Creating American Communities (KCAC), and the writing assignments that a group of middle and high school teachers developed after September 11. More ›

Tablespoon of Panic

Turning Points in Teaching: Narrative Reflection on Professional Practice, 2001
Michael Reinbold
Reinbold, a teacher-consultant with the Oregon Writing Project at Willamette University, tells a story of teacher rejuvenation as he takes a breakthrough idea from interviews with a group of seniors, to essays based on the interviews, to a series of monologues fashioned into a performance. More ›

Undrowning: A Rediscovery of the Power of Student Voice

The Voice, January-February 2001
Nannette Overley
Attending an NWP–sponsored Centre for Social Action meeting, Overley, a teacher at an alternative school in Santa Cruz, California, realizes that her best teaching has resulted from following a process similar to CSA's. More ›

Moffett Award Winner Unites Third-Graders, Senior Citizens

The Voice, November-December 2001
Andy Bradshaw
A Seattle-area program developed by Moffett award winner Diane Babcock brought third-graders and senior citizens together to construct a rich narrative of the past. More ›

“Let's Talk”: Building a Bridge Between Home and School

The Quarterly, Summer 2001
Catherine Humphrey
High school teacher Catherine Humphrey describes what happened when she began asking students to discuss classroom ideas at home, and offers some tips for promoting quality verbal interaction. More ›

Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues

The Quarterly, Winter 2001
Bill Bigelow, Linda Christensen
The authors demonstrate how the interior monologue form provides students with opportunities to think about why others do what they do and why they think as they think. More ›

Parent Homework Bridges the Teacher-Student Gap

The Voice, January-February 2000
Mary Buckelew
Mary Buckelew uses parent homework to personally connect with her students and their families. More ›

Wall of Literacy Learning Exemplifies Student Writing

The Voice, January-February 2000
Lynne Alvine
Members of the Rural Voices team and the site directors from the Southcentral Pennsylvania Writing Project create a "wall of literacy" which exemplifies students' writing development across the age ranges. More ›

The Other Side of the Stone: Student Conversations with a Graveyard

The Quarterly, Summer 2000
Patrick C. Pritchard
Pritchard, a teacher at an alternative school for adolescent boys, uses a cemetery as source material for writing and learning. More ›

Partial Successes and Limited Failures: Recognizing the Dissonances in our Teacherly Talk

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Jane Greer
Greer points to the work of 19th century educator Marian Wharton as providing a model that shows how we can allow multiple and contradictory stories of teaching and learning to coexist. More ›

They Will Choose to Learn: An Alternative to the Lock-Step Classroom

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Jon Appleby
Appleby provides a series of short case studies documenting his work with troubled learners to make the case that individualized learning provides a route to success for these students and, by implication, for all students. More ›

You and Me and a Book Makes Three: Students Write Collaborative Book Reviews

The Quarterly, Summer 1999
Bernadette Lambert
Lambert describes a project in which students and parents share and write about the same book. More ›

From Grief, Poetry: Expressive Writings from the Westside Tragedy

The Quarterly, Winter 1999
Robert Lamm
In the context of a trauma that followed a massacre at an Arkansas middle school, Lamm makes a case for the power of poetry writing as therapy in times of crisis. More ›

Book Review: You Can Make a Difference, by Keresty, O'Leary and Wortley

The Quarterly, Fall 1998
Elyse Eidman-Aadahl
Eidman-Aadahl recommends this "slim volume offering clear and practical advice for organizing our colleagues and community members around local policy issues." More ›

In the Midst of Silence

The Quarterly, Spring 1998
Kimberly Sloan
Working as a volunteer in a youth correctional facility, Sloan details her struggle to develop a curriculum that would allow her students "to find an overlap between school and their world." More ›

Book Review: The Art of Workplace English: A Curriculum for All Students, by C. Boiarsky

The Quarterly, Summer 1998
Ann Dobie
Dobie finds this is a book "whose time has come" as she presents the author's argument for curricula that will prepare students for the world of the 21st century without sacrificing essential traditional learning. More ›

Do You Remember Me? Writing Oral Histories with Nursing Home Residents

The Quarterly, Summer 1998
Cathie English
High school teacher Cathie English describes how students collected rich oral histories and created "Elderly Voices: Living Links to the Past," a online collection of narratives of nursing home residents in Hamilton County, Nebraska. More ›

Book Excerpt: Until We Are Strong Together: Women Writers in the Tenderloin, by C. Heller

The Quarterly, Fall 1997
Caroline Heller
Heller re–creates the process of a writing workshop in San Francisco's Tenderloin, a neighborhood of the poor and homeless, illustrating how writing serves as a fulcrum for explorations of—and actions upon—the forces underlying the participants' lives. More ›

The Writing Process Goes to San Quentin

The Quarterly, Fall 1997
Jane Juska
Working with lifer inmates at San Quentin Prison, Juska finds that while the "writing process" takes some unorthodox shifts and turns "it was there all the time, jerked around by living human beings." More ›

Against All Odds: Implementing a Middle School Writing Club

The Quarterly, Spring 1997
Nancy Renko, Mary Weaver
The writers detail the adventures of a voluntary writing club that concludes the semester with a trip to read original works to preschoolers. 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 ›

The "Righting" Club: Travails and Triumphs of a Community Writing Workshop

The Quarterly, Spring 1997
Michael Larkin
Larkin looks over his tenure as the director of a community center writing club, concluding that he should have stated his goals explicitly in the beginning, in order to better assess how he and his students progressed. More ›

We Are No Stephen Kings: The Reluctant Road from Coal Miner to Classroom

The Quarterly, Summer 1997
Aida Mainella Everhart
Teaching a "transition class" to a group of unemployed coal miners, Everhart finds that reading, writing, and writing poetry in particular prepare and motivate her students for the challenges that lie ahead. More ›

Are You the Teacher Who Gives Parents Homework?

Carole Chin
In NWP's book Cityscapes, Carole Chin describes how she uses the writing of students and their families to build community and provide a forum to address fears, anxieties, and concerns. More ›

Making Connections Between Family and School

Marci Resnick
In NWP's book Cityscapes, Marci Resnick documents how establishing regular phone contact with the parents of her students led her to create a flexible curriculum directly related to the needs of her students and their families. More ›

Literacy and Numeracy in a Changing Workplace

The Quarterly, Spring 1996
Mark Jury, Mira Katz
In this study of a workplace environment, the writers conclude that preparation for the current and future workplace will include experience in collaboration as well as effective listening, reading for information, locating information, etc. More ›

Real World Feminism: A Teacher Learns from Her Students' Writing

The Quarterly, Summer 1996
Lisa Orta
Orta comes to understand that, in her community college class, when she "expected everyone to subscribe to [her] brand of feminism [she had] ignored layers of societal pressures and personal longings." More ›

Stories Out of School: First-Grade Family Journals

The Quarterly, Winter 1996
Stephanie Terry
Terry demonstrates that family journals, which give family members a chance to write to her and with their children, "helped not only the children but entire families fly higher and further." More ›

Community Literacy: Can Writing Make a Difference?

The Quarterly, Spring/Summer 1994
Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins, Wayne C. Peck
This excerpt from Community Literacy by Wayne Peck, Linda Flower, and Lorraine Higgins describes the work of the Pittsburgh Community Literacy Center's community–university collaborative. Seeing the need for a working intercultural discourse that lets people cross barriers of race, class, gender, and economics, the authors show how new ideas in education can help shape the conversation and how writing, and learning to use writing for social action, can sit at the center of such a discourse. They describe their process, in which teens enter a policy discussion about suspension and college mentors enter the discourse of inner city teens. More ›

TR 67. From Invention to Social Action in Early Childhood Literacy: A Reconceptualization through Dialogue about Difference

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1993
Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson contrasts dominant assumptions about appropriate developmental practices (i.e., invented spelling, process writing) with children's interpretations of those practices, interpretations grounded in children's social and cultural worlds. More ›

Writing in Community

The Quarterly, Winter 1991
Ben Clarke
Clarke describes working with homeless and low-income residents in San Francisco where the practices of Paulo Freire are applied, and "a position of social advocacy combines with an atmosphere of community trust and celebration." More ›

OP 08. Writing and Reading in the Community

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1989
Jenny Cook-Gumperz, Marcia Farr, Robert Gundlach
This paper reviews recent scholarship on writing and reading in the community and explores these literacies as social practices with implications for writing and reading instruction in school. More ›

Writing Testing Reading

The Quarterly, April 1987
Marcie Wolfe
In this study of an adult literacy student who has failed the Test of Adult Basic Education, Wolfe concludes that measures of literacy that would reveal her student's knowledge and ability have not been developed. More ›

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