Study Groups Refresh the Knowledge Base of Writing Projects

Jul 12, 2012
Image for issue at The Model at Work
Published:  Thursday, July 12, 2012
Issue number:  4

No doubt that times are changing in the field of teaching writing. A recent article by Richard E. Miller on teaching writing begins with a tongue-in-cheek title (“The Coming Apocalypse”) and continues:  

We are fortunate to be living through the greatest change in human communication in human history. This change is bigger and more momentous than our distant ancestors’ crawl from the muck to dry land where, over great swaths of time, they came to grunt at one another meaningfully. It is more significant than the invention of the alphabet. It is more important than anything that was set in motion by the grinding gears of the Guttenberg printing press. It is more transformative than the telephone, the television set, and the satellite have been or will ever be.” (Miller, Richard E. “The Coming Apocalypse.” Pedagogy 10:1, 143-51).

Well, maybe it’s not the coming apocalypse, but new technologies and the ubiquity of college and career ready standards have created a significant shift in how the teaching of writing is approached. How do writing project leaders retool their knowledge?  Take advantage of the writing project’s ready-made learning community? Challenge each other to prepare for new technologies and classroom contexts?

One of the ways writing projects take advantage of the opportunities provided by changing times is by inviting teachers to engage with each other in study groups to refresh the content of their summer institutes, professional development, and continuity.  These groups vary in design and specific purpose, but all of them respect teachers’ interest in continual learning.  These programs illustrate the variety of ways that writing projects keep current in the field.

In addition to the posts collected at The Model at Work, UCLA Writing Project’s continuity monograph describes a series of study groups around social justice issues: Creating the Spaces for Study Under the Social Justice Umbrella. And this short article on study groups at San Diego Area Writing Project looks at how they helped TCs think through adjustments to mandated curriculum programs in their service area:Integrating Writing Project Practices into a Mandated Program. SDAWP is now using a similar study group process to study tecnologies in the classroom: Inquiry Groups: iPads, Web 2.0, and Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom