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Middle School Language Arts Teachers Participate in Writing Workshop!

During the week of August 3 -6, 92 teachers from around the school district participated in a residency institute focusing upon improving student writing within the middle school framework. Sponsored by The Reading and Writing Project Network, based out of Columbia University, New York, the Home Grown Summer Writing Institute provided professional development and site-based coaching as teachers explored varied research-based instructional methods for literacy instruction.

Ms. Ronda Baker, Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator for Middle Schools, quoted, " The purpose of the institute was to help teachers learn and strengthen their ability to support students who are learning to be powerful and independent readers and writers. In writing workshops, students learn to observe their lives and the world around them, and to collect, draft, revise, edit, and publish well-crafted narrative and expository texts. In reading workshops, students are explicitly taught the strategies and habits of proficient readers. They learn to talk, think, and write well about their reading, and to to live richly literate lives."

The institute marked the fifth year that UCPS middle schools have been actively engaged in comprehensive literacy staff development. The first two years focused upon reading, and the integration of writing has followed the past three years. The presenters leading the workshop were:

  • Maggie Beattie, a former middle school teacher, who has studied literacy education at Teachers College and leads staff development in New York City, Seattle and Chicago.
  • Garrett Kyle, who taught high school in Miami, Florida, before working as a middle school teacher and a literacy coach in East Harlem. Garrett lifts the level of teaching in New York City, Seattle and Buffalo.
  • Chris Lehman received his Ed. M. in Education Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. He supports rigorous literacy work in districts across the country, including Rancho Santa Fe, CA and Union County, NC. Chris is currently co-facilitator for the Writing Network of the Queen Rania Teacher Academy in Amman, Jordan. Prior to joining the project, Chris taught middle and high school ELA and was a literacy coach in New York City.
  • Kate Roberts, a middle school staff developer and screen writer, who leads a leadership group on using drama to lift reading and writing. Kate is writing a book on ways teachers can use their own writing as a teaching tool.

Baker concluded that the training and support from The Reading and Writing Project Network helps UCPS teachers understand how to differentiate and individualize instruction in order to meet the needs of the diverse learners in each classroom.

Written by: Dr. John Jones, Director of Middle School Education
Posted: Mar 16, 2010 by Don Mace

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