I am fortunate in that I am co-facilitating a roundtable session this morning at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project‘s Best Practices conference. The session I am part of evolved from a year-long partnership in which three WMWP leaders (myself, and two others) led professional development around literacy at an urban elementary/middle school. During the year, we moved from the Common Core implementation, to the introduction of a true Writing Workshop model, to using technology and digital media, to having teachers launch into a classroom inquiry project.
Today, in our Dialogues with Donahue session (the name of the school), we will be talking about the hurdles and the successes that were part of our year together, framed around the essential question of “what does literacy look like” at a school and how do you bring teachers together to begin to foster a shared vision of what writing and reading looks like in the classroom. The inquiry projects were at the heart of this work, allowing teachers to develop an important question and working to make change in their classroom, and school.
This was also the most difficult part, as many of these teachers had become accustomed to stand/deliver professional development, and not inquiry-based work. Some of the teachers will be sharing their journey today and involving the audience in examining their own school climate around literacy and doing some thinking about inquiry themselves.
An added bonus: Peter Elbow, whose work — including the influential Writing Without Teachers — has informed writing instruction for decades now, is the keynote speaker for our WMWP Best Practices event. I have my video camera and he has given me permission to tape his talk, so I will see what I can do with the video in the coming days. Elbow’s topic is about speaking and listening, as tied into his new book Vernacular Eloquence, and the connections to writing.
Peace (in the day ahead),