The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Life-Changing Class: The National Writing Project

For teachers who have not experienced the power of a summer institute with the National Writing Project, you have no idea what you are missing.

Every state has a writing project, or two sites, or three, or more.  Surf the internet for a project close to you.  To get your foot in the door, take the Summer Institute, a 4-5 week class. (6 graduate credits!  Wow!) The luxury of taking the time to work on your own personal writing (because that's the main assignment for the class) as you meet in response groups, and try various revision strategies, and learn from your definitely changed my life and my teaching.

For example, I learned how much deconstruction is involved in the writing process.  It's not all about getting words down onto the paper.  It's moving parts around, and crossing things out, and putting them back in, and cooking the piece down until the flavor is rich and thick.

The importance of writing for an audience, and the value of getting feedback from fellow writers, became quite clear during the Summer Institute.  Becoming stronger as a writer, and finding out what works for me as a writer (because we're all different) made me become a stronger teacher of writing.

In St. Louis, my project is the Gateway Writing Project.  However, no matter where you live, there is a writing project somewhere near you.  Check it out, and don't be afraid that more will be added to your plate.  This is not another program to do.  What you learn via the NWP (National Writing Project) will become---seamlessly---a part of what you do, and will make your work easier. (I promise!)

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