LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR: Onward and Upward in 2012
Greetings Friends and Colleagues,
Happy New Year and welcome to the inaugural issue of the New York City Writing Project’s e-newsletter. As many of you remember, print newsletters have a rich history at the Project—running back to the spring of 1982. But this marks our first electronic newsletter. With it, we are proud to announce our new website and some exciting new ways to keep our community updated.
2012 marks the New York City Writing Project’s 34th year of professional development and support for teachers in NYC schools. Our work continues to thrive, and new sponsored fellowships and initiatives are on the horizon. With full-time consultants currently on-site in 24 sites collaborating with over 450 teachers, our in-service programs will reach over 55,000 students this year. We continue to expand our summer offerings—in addition to our annual Summer Invitational, we will sponsor an advanced summer institute investigating argument in writing as a way of deepening knowledge and expertise in working with the Common Core State Standards. What’s more, a new cohort of fellows in the Elementary Leadership Program is busy building knowledge and strategies for inquiry-based writing in K through 6 classrooms.
To increase the NYCWP’s participation and awareness in global education conversations, we’ve reserved one space in our summer invitational for a teacher from abroad. Themba Langa, a South African curriculum advisor, spent last July with the NYCWP as our first visiting international Fellow, marking the beginning of an effort to sponsor global fellows each summer. During his time with us Mr. Langa built a curriculum for teachers using writing-to-learn methods to promote HIV/AIDS awareness among South African secondary students. Networking and support among the Fellows continues to flourish; from the South Bronx to Soweto, new resources and insights are being shared.
On a more personal yet global note, I spent the holiday break in Nepal visiting schools and conducting workshops for Nepali teachers. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about classroom teaching in Nepal, as well as share some of the NYCWP’s approaches to writing, reading and experiential learning.
It’s our hope that these new forums—the e-newsletter along with the website’s new dynamic content— will provide rich opportunities for us to stay connected in the future. I’d like to thank those whose hard work made this initiative possible: Tricia Clarke, Noah Gordon, Grace Raffaele, Taina Torres and a committed team of teacher consultants at the NYCWP. We welcome suggestions and feedback as we continue to shape these new technologies around the needs of our New York City Writing Project community.
All my best,
Erick Gordon, Director
National Writing Project’s 2011 Annual Meeting in Chicago
The NWP’s 2011 annual meeting was held at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, on November 17th and 18th. Assembled in conjunction with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) convention each year, the annual meeting is a place to come together and share knowledge across the network. Over 560 members of the NWP community came out to hear updates on funding, grant opportunities, and new initiatives from the National office. In addition to two small group strategy meetings and workshop sessions, participants came together for a luncheon talk featuring Deborah Meier.
Friday sessions included a writing marathon sponsored by the Chicago Area Writing Project and the University of Illinois Writing Project, as well as a working session examining the NWP’s new online spaces, NWP Connect and Digital Is.
“Literacy in the Common Core” Launches in Park City, Utah
Writing Project teams from sites in Colorado, Kentucky and New York (ESWPN— Empire State Writing Project Network) convened in Park City, Utah from July 31st through August 4th to begin to plan curriculum that aligns to the CCSS using the Learning Design Collaborative’s template to develop modules/units. Marcie Wolfe, Joe Bellacero and Diane Giorgi, from NYCWP, joined the team to begin the process of developing teaching modules using the Literacy Design Collaborative system and to build collective knowledge related to understanding and implementing the CCSS.
Module Writing Team, CCSS
The NYCWP Module Writing Team convened at the Annual Meeting on November 17th and 18th to continue the work begun in Utah. Writing Teams have moved to the drafting of modules/units using the Learning Design Collaborative’s template for curricula which is aligned to the CCSS. Social studies teacher Felisa Brunschwig, and science teacher Pam Meyer, joined NYCWP’s Joe Bellacero, Diane Giorgi and members from seven other NWP sites from across New York State to provide and receive feedback on the draft modules. Further review and preparation for dissemination took place when the team met in Tiburon, California, January 13th – 15th, 2012.
FELLOWSHIPS AND INSTITUTES
NYCWP Elementary Leadership Program
Now in its fourth year, the Elementary Leadership Program supports the growth of teacher-leaders in elementary schools across New York City. Funded by the Rabina Family Foundation, 14 New York City elementary school teachers create inquiry projects to explore writing practice with their students. Starting in November, a new group of Fellows meets once per month at Lehman College with School of Education Early Childhood faculty, Dr. Cecilia Espinosa, and Catlin Preston an elementary teacher from Central Park East and member of ELP’s first cohort.
Satellite Invitational Institute in Brooklyn
Due to the size and range of the NYCWP’s constituency, as well as the always-present demand for additional programming, the NYCWP offers a Satellite Invitational Institute in Brooklyn each spring. The 2012 Satellite began January 20th, and will meet for eight Saturday sessions to read, write and explore classroom writing practices. This year’s 19 Fellows represent middle and high school from four of the five boroughs of New York.
Collaborations in Adult and Continuing Education
In collaboration with the NYCDOE’s Office of Adult and Continuing Education (District 79), and the Institute for Literacy Studies’ Adult Learning Center, NYCWP teacher-consultants are providing professional development services to teachers of Basic Education, English Language Learners and GED classes as well as instructional facilitators, region principals and assistant principals.
Working with two CUNY-wide programs, the NYCWP will bring high school teachers and college faculty together to examine issues of college readiness in the Bridging the Space program. Partners include At Home in College, a Robin Hood Foundation-funded college transition program and College Now, whose goal is to increase the college enrollment and retention rates of NYC public school students, and ultimately, their college graduation rates.
Celebrating Student Writing at the Nuyorican Poets Café
On May 21, 2011, students from participating NYC Writing Project schools were invited to this end-of-the-year event, reading their poetry and prose on the stage of the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café. Twenty-two students from ten schools from across the city shared their work–and all of its thoughtfulness, passion, humor and heartbreak–to a standing-room-only audience. The reading was organized by Alison Koffler-Wise and Diane Giorgi. Musical interludes were provided by music teacher Fred Vasquez and his students from Newtown High School. The Grand Master of Ceremonies was spoken word and performing artist Christopher “Cannon” Mapp.
NEW WORKSHOPS: The Writing Project Around New York City
Writing that Takes a Stand: Integrating Argumentative Writing Across Content Areas and Language Connections across the Curriculum: On-site teacher consultant Diane Giorgi led multiple workshops to support teachers in their work with CCSS and integrating language and content instruction across disciplines.
Writing from the Core: Argument, Persuasion and the Art of the Essay. Teacher consultants Julie Miele, Alison Koffler-Wise and Susannah Thompson led a workshop series devoted to the argument strand of the CCSS, studying other key strands of writing and reading that reinforce skills to create an argumentative piece.
Building Argument from a World of Text. Facilitated by Susannah Thompson and Alison Koffler-Wise, this two-day workshop at the American Museum of Natural History led teachers through a process of observation, discussion, and varied reading and writing experiences to inspire original ways of using this element of the CCLS.
Writing from the Core: Teaching Narrative, Argumentative, and Informational Writing. This workshop, facilitated by Susannah Thompson, focused on innovative approaches to teaching the major strands of writing featured in the CCLS.
To find out more about workshops in your school, click here.
Awards and Publications
August 2011: The poem, “House and Garden” by Alison Koffler-Wise was awarded the Green Heron Poetry Award by the Upper Delaware Writers’ Collective.
As part of the writing/performing group, the Goat Hill Poets, Alison Koffler-Wise was featured in the November/December issue of Ulster Magazine.