In a four-week session that runs through June, the institute’s nearly 20 participants are improving their knowledge of writing by writing themselves and preparing for enhanced leadership roles by sharing their most effective practices.
“The best teacher of a teacher is another teacher,” said Shannon D. Collins, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at TTU and organizer of the UCWP. “Recent national studies have shown significant gains for students of teachers who’ve participated in programs like ours.”
Each day, the participants share their work as writers, demonstrate effective strategies for developing students as writers, and model writing as a tool for learning at all grade levels and content areas, including math, science, social studies and language arts.
“It’s encouraging and gratifying to see dedicated professionals devote a month of their summer to enhance writing instruction in their classrooms,” said Ina Maxwell, co-director of the UCWP and a fourth-grade teacher at Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Cumberland County.
The UCWP is among more than 200 federally funded sites of the National Writing Project, a professional development network that serves teachers of writing at all grade levels — primary through university — and in all subjects.
It began at the University of California at Berkeley and now includes sites in all 50 states. The UCWP is the newest of only three sites in Tennessee.
“The advantages of having a writing project in this region include customized in-service programs for Upper Cumberland schools and other institutions and continuing education and research opportunities for our teachers,” Collins said.
In addition to the annual invitational summer institute, the UCWP can offer special programs for youth, parents, community members and administrators.