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The Upper Cumberland Writing Project (UCWP), is the third National Writing Project Site in Tennessee along with the West Tennessee Writing Project and the Middle Tennessee Writing Project. The UCWP is a professional development program of, by, and for teachers at all grade levels and in all disciplines. Established in the summer of 2008 on the campus of Tennessee Tech University, the UCWP works to bring teachers, administrators, learners, and community members together to read, write, study, and share their strategies in an effort to enhance writing instruction for all learners.

Serving the Upper Cumberland region, the UCWP is dedicated to improving writing in grades Pre-K through 16 and maintains that significant change happens over time. The UCWP encourages diverse approaches to teaching writing, and unlike many teacher training and mandated inservice relying on outside consultants, all Writing Project sites are collaborations among successful practicing teachers who have been designated Teacher-Consultants (TCs) after having completed an Invitational Summer Institute. We work from a firm belief in the power of classroom-tested knowledge.

The program also strives to provide professional development for classroom teachers, support teachers' own writing, and promote teacher leadership. Each summer the UCWP hosts an Invitational Summer Institute where exemplary, experienced and pre-service teachers, kindergarten through university levels, meet for four weeks to share and sharpen their skills as writers, teachers, demonstrators and learners. The UCWP also hosts various inservice opportunities for teachers of neighboring counties while continuing the teachers-teaching-teachers model.

Our Vision

Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. The NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.

Our Core Principles

  • Teachers at every level—from kindergarten through college—are the agents of reform; universities and schools are ideal partners for investing in that reform through professional development.
  • Writing can and should be taught, not just assigned, at every grade level. Professional development programs should provide opportunities for teachers to work together to understand the full spectrum of writing development across grades and across subject areas.
  • Knowledge about the teaching of writing comes from many sources: theory and research, the analysis of practice, and the experience of writing. Effective professional development programs provide frequent and ongoing opportunities for teachers to write and to examine theory, research, and practice together systematically.
  • There is no single right approach to teaching writing; however, some practices prove to be more effective than others. A reflective and informed community of practice is in the best position to design and develop comprehensive writing programs.
  • Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform.

Our Mission

The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation's educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.


The UCWP was founded at Tennessee Tech University in 2008, with Dr. Shannon Collins serving as director until 2012. Dr. Tony Baker, professor of English at TTU, currently directs the UCWP. Co-directors are Dr. Jane Baker, associate professor of early childhood education at TTU, and Martha Ramsey, kindergarten teacher at Cookeville's Sycamore Elementary School (Putnam County Schools).