Reading, writing, arithmetic, reviewed

Jaclyn Dixon

Teachers from Northeast Ohio are gathered at Kent State to brush up on one of the classic three R’s – writing.

Founded in 1974, the National Writing Project brings a group of teachers from across Northeast Ohio together for an intense five-week writing experience. The project is directed by Nancy McCracken and Tony Manna. Participants meet five days a week for four weeks from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Teachers are expected to read, write and reflect on all aspects of the writing process, said John Jurvey, former Cleveland middle school teacher.

Teachers design model lessons, incorporating the Ohio State Standards of Writing, which are shared with participants, then revised and taken back to each participants’ classroom to be implemented the following school year, Jurvey said.

Not just any teacher can be a part of the project. Teachers have to be invited into the program by their administrator. An application process is involved, as well as an interview and a letter of recommendation from the supporting district.

The program is funded in part by the federal government through the National Writing Project and the Ohio Board of Regents. Kent State is one of only three institutions in Ohio that has received funding from the writing project. Miami and Ohio State are the other two.

Teachers can earn six hours of graduate credit toward a master’s degree or a master’s plus in Curriculum and Instruction through the College of Education, Health and Human Services.

“The National Writing Project empowers the participants to design and implement writing lessons based on the best practices, which are introduced and shared during the five-week summer session held at Kent State University,” McCracken said.

Teachers have found the program productive both for themselves and their students, Jurvey said.

“I think it’s good for teachers to be students,” said Aimee Kennedy, McKinley high school teacher . “It’s been a reflective experience both personally and professionally.”

Teachers are required to complete four written assignments in order to earn credits for the program. Those assignments include: a literacy narrative, an extensive research project, a writing portfolio and a demonstration lesson.

“This program is a summer writing camp for teachers,” McCracken said.

McCracken said Kent State faculty did a research assessment two years ago to determine the quality of student’s writing from the teachers who participated in the program in comparison to students of similar teachers who weren’t in the program. These students were sampled three times during the school year.

In all three testings, the program kids scored significantly higher than the students whose teachers were not involved in the writing project, McCracken said.

Once the program is completed, participants may become National Writing Project Teacher Consultants, who share the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired with other teachers in their school and throughout Northeast Ohio.

“As a parent or a school principal, you want your teachers to have this program because it’s going to increase your kid’s chances to do better as writers,” McCracken said.

Contact colleges of Business Administration and Education reporter Jaclyn Dixon at [email protected].