My Squirrelly View of Education

Trying to Integrate Technology into HS English & Special Education

I know that this should have been posted yesterday, but I didn’t get around to it until today. I could blame it on the MACUL 2011 conference that I attended last week, but the truth is I had to do a lot of thinking about what the National Writing Project what it’s impact has been on me and my teaching.


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This is my thirty-first year in the classroom, so I have been around the block many times when it comes to literacy instruction techniques, theories, best practices, and educational reform. I have participated in more professional development programs than I care to remember. None of those experiences had much impact on how I taught or

NWP teachers at work

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on how I viewed myself as an educator. Not one.

While I am considered to be a a highly and specifically qualified in all areas of ELA 9-12 (with the exception of Journalism) in the state of Michigan, I was struggling to teach my students in both general education and special education the skills and attitudes they would need in this century. All my frustrations came to a head about three years ago. I was burnt out and hopeless. I couldn’t wait until I could retire. Then something wonderful happened….

My Twitter PLN started talking about the National Writing Project and what a life changing experience it was. I started wondering what these amazing teachers were talking about. How in thirty years in education had I not heard about this? I wanted to know more, but I didn’t want to give up my summer if it wasn’t going to be worth it.

Gradually, they convinced me to apply to the Eastern Michigan Writing Project. So I did, and I attended the Invitational Summer Institute in 2010.

I cannot describe how it changed my view of myself as an educator, and more importantly, my teaching. The National Writing Project is not just about writing. It is so much more. As a fellow, I had to examine my educational philosophy, my teaching skill set, and to question why I did what I did.

This is a map of the NWP's local Writing Proje...

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No one in my entire educational career had asked me to reflect on these things. No one had asked me to consider teaching differently. No one had asked this very experienced teacher to “up her game” until the National Writing Project. The Summer Institute and all subsequent training has and continues to be life changing. It has helped me to become the teacher I always wanted to be.

The professional development model used by the National Writing Project and all of it sites should be the model for all professional development nationwide. Period.  The network of National Writing Project Sites, their teacher consultants, and the local projects add  so much to our knowledge about makes good teaching and good literacy instruction. This work MUST be allowed to continue and be funded nationally. Without this network and support many local projects in both rural and urban settings would disappear. The educators involved with the NWP would lose valuable support, research and encouragement from amazing educators. Please, reinstate the funding for this project.

This old dog wants every educator to have the opportunity to participate in a Summer Institute. Please help them do so.

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