Following a yearlong competitive application process, Colorado State University has been named an official site of the National Writing Project, a nationwide professional development program for K-16 teachers created to improve the teaching of writing and enhance learning in the nation’s schools.
"Last year, Colorado State was invited to apply to become a National Writing Project site, which itself is a credit to the university," said Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, professor of English and director of the writing project at Colorado State. "We are honored to be awarded the project and excited for the opportunity to improve student writing by enhancing the teaching of writing in Colorado’s schools."
The writing project at Colorado State, housed in the Department of English, will offer professional development programs for teachers across all disciplines and levels of education. The project is based on the belief that teachers are the key to educational reform and can improve teaching by studying and conducting research.
The Colorado State project is focusing on a teachers-teaching-teachers model to build a professional development network dedicated to the teaching of writing in Colorado. Led by writing project faculty, Colorado educators will participate in programs designed to examine classroom practice, conduct research and further develop their individual writing skills.
One of the project’s primary events is a month-long summer institute. Colorado teachers will apply to be accepted into the institute each year where they will participate in programs to learn about the best practices of the teaching of writing, participate in writing groups, learn about new techniques of the teaching of writing, focus on current research and prepare their own professional presentations.
Throughout the school year, the teachers then will provide similar professional development workshops for other educators in their schools and communities, further extending the network of professional development and support.
Summer Institute participants, who attend the program for free, qualify for six hours of graduate credit and receive a $600 stipend to help cover travel and housing costs. Participants also will be invited to attend a follow-up winter writing retreat.
The writing project at Colorado State will additionally offer a variety of professional development and continuing education opportunities for all Colorado teachers throughout the year. Ongoing writing project activities include writing camps, book clubs, teacher research groups, new teacher support programs and the development of newsletters and other publications. All activities are designed to improve teaching so educators can help students become better writers.
"Colorado State’s writing project will provide education and support for our state’s teachers, helping them to reach out and share with others," said O’Donnell-Allen. "This type of project can transform the way teachers, schools and entire districts teach writing."
The writing project also will introduce Colorado teachers to the English department’s renowned Writing Center that supports writers and teachers with a wide range of resources. The project will receive support from the Poudre School District and the university’s collaborative Center for Research on Writing and Communication Technologies, or CROWACT, a national leader in the production and assessment of new media technologies for instruction and professional communication.
"Colorado State being named a National Writing Project site is further strengthening ties among writing programs at the university, enhancing our opportunities and abilities to educate teachers and writers on campus, throughout the community and across the state," said Mike Palmquist, University Distinguished Teaching Scholar and co-director of CROWACT.
The National Writing Project began in 1974 at the University of California-Berkeley. The program receives federal funding which it currently grants to 175 local sites in 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The only other National Writing Program site in Colorado is at the University of Colorado-Denver.
Sites operate from university campuses and collaborate with surrounding schools and districts. Collectively, these sites serve approximately 100,000 teachers every year, grades kindergarten through university, in all disciplines. More than 2 million teachers have participated in the program since its inception. Each year, approximately 7.5 million students benefit from their teachers’ participation in the National Writing Project.