The National Writing Project (NWP) trains teachers from all walks of life to champion authentic writing instruction in their schools and communities. Teachers who attend NWP institutes at sites across the country and complete inquiry projects in writing instruction become Teacher Consultants who help their students and colleagues find purpose and voice in writing across the curriculum and across media.
NWP’s institutes provide us with a great model of self-directed professional development, and the work NWP does to publish teacher and student voices is entirely laudable and necessary to the development of democratic voices at school that be can heard as a clean, clear, honest, and passionate signal through the noise of the information age. The NWP is about teachers and students creating content together by following their passions through writing; it is a healthy antithesis to the growing number of content delivery systems educators and students are being asked to use to teach and learn by numbers.
On March 2nd, 2001, President Obama signed a spending bill to keep the federal government operating during budget season. The bill cut federal funding to the NWP as part of a Congressional effort to eliminate earmarks – federal funds legislated to support certain programs like the NWP. While pork-barrel projects are, perhaps, easy political targets for elected officials looking to make names for themselves as no-nonsense fiscal conservatives, the NWP is not a pork-barrel project and it makes no sense to eliminate funding to the NWP, a program with a proven track record in raising student achievement that provides teachers and students with authentic opportunities for communication, inquiry, and problem-solving – opportunities to practice those deservedly ballyhooed skills our students need to be college-, community-, and life-ready.
I attended the Central Virginia Writing Project institute early in my career. It helped me approach teaching in an interdisciplinary way and it helped me value my students’ voices. I was fortunate to work as a teacher consultant with a local school system several times and to help its middle school develop writing and vocabulary instruction across the curriculum. I write for NWP’s Digital Is initiative, as well.
Through initiatives like Digital Is, the NWP helps us push ourselves to be the teachers our kids need and deserve.
I hope you’ll join me in blogging for the NWP this weekend, from Friday, March 18th through Sunday, March 20th, 2011. Please support the NWP by sharing your experiences with the project, its institutes, its teacher consultants, and the resources it freely provides for all teachers. If you haven’t participated in an institute or worked with the NWP, please join us in calling on the federal government to support the NWP in championing authentic professional development, teaching, and learning through programs like the writing project.
As you post, please share your links here, send the links to me via Twitter (@chadsansing, by @ or DM), or email your link to me. I will collect and publish the links here on the Coöp. If you tweet me, please include @EdPressSec, @Ed_Outreach, @nwpsiteleaders, and @whitehouse in your tweet.
Let’s use the hashtag #blog4NWP. If you post before or after this weekend’s window, please let me know and/or use the hashtag to make sure I pick up your article for inclusion on the #blog4NWP archive post.
Please also consider sending your writing as an email to your local and state representatives in federal government.
If you don’t blog, but would like to write about your NWP experience in support of the program, let me know. I’d love to help you get started blogging or to facilitate guest-posting for you at the Coöp.
Our goal is to persuade elected officials to reintroduce funding for the NWP in the federal budget. Ancillary to that goal is attracting and holding the attention of the Secretary of Education and enlisting his support, as well as the support of the Department of Education, in securing federal funds for the NWP.
Again, please join me in speaking out and speaking up for a proven, federally-funded education program that reflects our best, most democratic, most individualized teaching and learning by writing for life. Please support the NWP.