Writing is pivotal for learning. No matter what students are studying, they benefit when they use writing to understand concepts, solve problems, communicate ideas, and make sense of what they read and learn. Because the California Writing Project has a central mission—to improve student writing and learning by improving the teaching of writing—at the heart of every Writing Project program are the following goals:
recognizing that teachers are the key to educational reform and that experienced teachers are the best teachers of other teachers
concentrating efforts where literacy is most in jeopardy
emphasizing approaches to developing the writing and reading of English learners
supporting teachers as they prepare students to meet and exceed California’s standards
preparing students for the writing of school and college, the community and workplace
serving California teachers, students, schools, and districts through a model of university/school collaboration.
CWP’s teachers teaching teachers approach to professional learning works because we “emphasize a focus on students, collaboration with teachers, and a commitment to ongoing learning.” (Lieberman)
HOW DOES CWP DEVELOP its LEADERSHIP CADRE OF TEACHER CONSULTANTS AND HOW DO TEACHER CONSULTANTS TEACH AND SUPPORT THEIR FELLOW TEACHERS?
CWP sites conduct Invitational Leadership Institutes in the Teaching of Writing that prepare Teacher Consultants through intensive inquiry into effective writing and assessment practices, supporting research, and the student writing that results. Teacher Consultants write to gain firsthand experience in the writing they teach and the interventions students need to improve their writing. Through ongoing leadership development programs, Teacher Consultants create and lead professional learning opportunities for their colleagues that address school and district needs: linking district curricula to California standards, assessing writing to inform instruction, improving argument writing for college, career, and community readiness, teaching writing with digital tools.
Each year, over 2,000 CWP Teacher Consultants take on important leadership roles in programs for educators, students, and families:
Classroom coaching and mentoring
Writing Project partnerships with schools and districts
School-based professional learning communities
Youth writing academies
Family literacy programs
Summer and school year professional learning seminars and institutes
Pre-service and beginning teacher programs
How can schools and districts work with CWP sites to contract for customized professional learning programs?
Every CWP site provides contracted programs to schools and districts in its service area: extended programs from 30 to 60+ hours and shorter introductory programs. Programs are tailored to school or district needs, so the content varies from school to school. If teachers are new to the teaching of writing, the professional learning is tailored to that situation. If many of the students are long-term English learners, the professional learning focuses on approaches that will enhance the achievement of those students. The Writing Project works closely with administrators and faculty members at a given school to plan for what content will give students and teachers the most support for California standards-aligned writing instruction and assessment.
Contracted programs are offered year round in many different formats—1-2 week summer institutes, weekend conferences, a school- or district-sponsored workshop series, district workshops followed by school-based PLCs, and more.
School and district leadership teams should contact their local Writing Project to collaboratively develop professional learning programs for their context. Areas of focus are many and can include, but are not limited, to the following:
teaching the writing of the California Standards: Common Core State Standards, California ELD Standards, Next Generation Science Standards
teaching writing to support California’s varied English learners: newcomers, long-term English learners, ELD students, migrant students
connecting writing and reading
teaching response, revision, and editing
demystifying for students for the writing of college and the workplace
enhancing writing and disciplinary literacies across the curriculum
teaching and improving writing, reading, and research with digital tools
preparing students for performance assessments and high-stakes writing tasks
developing or adapting writing lessons, sequences, and assessments
establishing a writing-based classroom
designing and implementing an effective writing program
developing media literacies and digital citizenship
connecting the new curriculum frameworks to intentional teaching of writing.
The Programs page details additional program formats and areas of program focus.
How do Writing Projects build sustained partnerships with schools and districts?
Where funding is available for intensive, sustained professional learning, CWP sites conduct multi-year school and district partnership programs. Often Writing Projects will co-author grant proposals with schools or districts to support the partnership. The CWP partnership model offers a variety of programs from which a school can select or gradually build its partnership with the Writing Project:
Intensive or sustained summer institutes to increase teachers’ content, instructional, and assessment knowledge of California standards-informed writing across disciplines and grade levels
Demonstration teaching/coaching in classrooms
Curriculum audits and lesson development
Learning from student work PLCs, inquiry groups, and professional book study groups
Family writing programs: CCSS awareness, digital citizenship, writing support at home
After-school, intersession, or summer writing seminars and academies for students
Direct assessments of writing, both formative and summative
Needs assessment, planning, and goal setting for school and district leadership teams
Leadership programs for TOSAs, literacy or technology coaches, department chairs, SLC coordinators, career pathway coordinators, etc.
Do Writing Projects provide professional learning opportunities for individual educators or teacher teams?
CWP sites offer a wide range of professional learning programs open to every interested teacher:
Summer “open” institutes organized by grade level spans or the needs of differentiated learners and focused on local issues of literacy etc.
An academic year series of Saturday seminars
Professional book groups, often with online support
Demonstration Labs: programs for students and teachers drawing on approaches to writing workshop, digital writing, or college readiness academies
Teacher writing or research groups
Hybrid institutes that blend face-to-face and online sessions
What funding sources can schools and districts use to contract for programs and partnerships or to support the participation of individual educators or teacher teams in institutes and conferences?
ESSA funding: CWP professional development qualifies as ESSA “Evidence-Based Professional Development” for Title I (including Title 1, Part C, Migrant Education), III, V, and VII, Part A; and for Title II, Part A and B.
Does CWP have evidence for the impact and effectiveness of its programs, approaches, and interventions?
CWP supports teachers and students, schools and districts with a model of professional development that has an over forty-year track record of success and effectiveness. Site Directors can share research results that meet ESSA’s evidence requirement, reports from school and district writing assessments that show growth in student writing over the duration of the CWP program, and examples of improvement that demonstrate the connections between changes in teachers’ instructional practice and improvement in student writing.