Monday, July 19, 2010

NWP's Latest Research Results

Writing Project Professional Development Continues to Yield Gains in Student Writing Achievement

Date: July 15, 2010

Summary: NWP's latest research results demonstrate that professional development programs designed and delivered by NWP sites have a positive effect on the writing achievement of students across grade levels, schools, and contexts.

Key Findings
In 16 studies conducted in seven states, 103 of 112 comparisons show positive results in writing achievement favoring students in classrooms of NWP participants.

Student results are strong and favorable in those aspects of writing that the NWP is best known for, such as development of ideas, organization, and stance.

Students in Writing Project classrooms gained more often than their peers in the area of conventions as well, suggesting that basic skills also benefit from the NWP approach to teaching writing.

In the overall or holistic measure, in every case the improvement of students taught by teachers who participated in NWP programs exceeded that of students whose teachers were not participants.

Click to read full article


Technology a key tool in writing instruction: Students should have an opportunity to write for a real audience and collaborate on writing projects, experts say—and the internet can help

By Maya T. Prabhu, Assistant Editor

While there are still many obstacles facing teachers in implementing technology, teachers play a critical role in driving the use of technology to teach writing, says a recent report by the National Writing Project (NWP) and the College Board.

In the report, “Writing, Learning, and Leading in the Digital Age,” nine teachers—selected for their commitment to excellence and for a diverse set of disciplines, locations, kinds of schools, and student populations they represent—were observed by a writer for one day and then interviewed.

“The best way to make the case for technology and writing was to show how technology is being used,” said Alan Heaps, vice president for advocacy at the College Board.

The report found that the use of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, and comics-creating software can heighten students’ engagement and enhance their writing and thinking skills in all grade levels and across all subjects.

“The experience of these nine teachers reminds us of the central role they play in true education reform. It’s teachers who are the technology drivers, seeking out digital tools, learning them, testing them, and finally implementing them successfully in their classrooms,” said Sharon J. Washington, executive director of NWP.

The College Board and NWP recommend that three things be done to meet the challenges of teaching and learning in the digital age at all levels of education, said NWP co-director Elyse Eidman-Aadahl.

First, every student needs one-on-one access to computers or mobile technology in classrooms.

“Technology can’t have an impact on children if they don’t have access,” Eidman-Aadahl said.

Click here for full article


  1. @ Writing Project PD article:

    Woo-hoo! California looks good on that graph! I wish our SIs had been measured as well as the PD work we do, but maybe that is included within the PD heading? (Not inservice, though...) Elizabeth and Ann, I hope you notice the shout-out that ISAW gets as well. It's specifically mentioned as one of the programs that the California Writing Project is implementing.

  2. Technological skills are essential for our 21st Century Learners. I am so excited to try out the strategies I learned from SI on incorporating technology into the classroom to enrich student learning, especially in the area of writing. Hurray! Let's hear it for Technology!!

  3. I was wondering why our SI was not included in the measurements, but even without the numbers are doing the talking. I am constantly at a loss when it comes to trying to verbalize the powerfulness of this institute. It is something that can only be experienced to truly know, but I can say that I am so excited to head back into the classroom in August. With the work I was did with my students last year, and all of the fabulousness that is now coming back with me from the institute, all my students are going to be writers this year. I can't wait to see what they can do!

  4. The ISAW workshops were the foundation for my curriculum this year-and I saw more improvement in my student's writing than I had ever seen before. I am glad that there is data to support what they are doing.

    In the technology article one of the teachers said that the online essay tests gave her students the opportunity to practice the skills they need to take these standardized tests, which freed her from being the "evil grader." I have been grappling with how to create an authentic writing environment for my students and still give them the skills they need to successfully take those dumb tests-this is a really helpful way to give them that practice and free up some writing time for other stuff. This article was really helpful!!

  5. Thanks for mentioning that Kendra. I was focused on the technology article. I've actually been thinking that it would be good to do ISAW again because a lot of it was a blur to me last summer.

    Reading the eschoolnews article was frustrating. I appreciate the NWP research that shows teachers drive the adoption and use of technology, and the fact the NWP and College Board outlined the three things necessary for technology to work in the classroom (one-to-one access, professional development and district policies that support an infrastructure). I also like the fact the portion of the article that refers to the NWP references blogs, podcasts, wikis and comic-creating programs as a way for students to write and share their writing with an authentic audience.

    Then the article transitions to two commercial companies and the products they sell - Criterion and MY Access. Both are programs that analyze a student's success in spelling, grammar, transitions, form - all the things that we have discussed at SI are not really writing. I give the company spokespeople credit for acknowledging these programs do not replace the teacher, but too many teachers, administrators and district leaders think these programs DO help students' writing when all they are really doing is replacing pen and paper and someone who checks the mechanics of a student's writing.

    The strengths of using technology in student writing are the increased motivation and the chance to share with an authentic audience.

  6. This research that the NWP has a positive affect in student achievement does not surprise me. The format of interactive learning and teachers teaching teachers seems to really work! So simple, yet so brilliant! I can't wait to bring back what I learned to the classroom as well as share it with my colleagues.

  7. blah(g), blah(g), blah(g), blah(g) is all I gotta say. Actually, I haven't done too bad at trying to use technology in the classroom (for some reason I wanted to type bathroom instead- I don't even use technology in the bathroom, unless you consider a bidet technology). This article and the Institute have really pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and meet the technological needs of my students. "Down with the luddites!" "I will not be satisfied until every bathroom is equipped with a 3D flat screen television." "Ground control to Major Tom Your circuits broke- there's something wrong..." Twitter dee Twitter dumb. Is twitter dumb? I wonder. It was used extensively during the internal conflict in Iran a year ago. I can't travel to China- no Google. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." "Well you should care- sound bytes are the new FUNgus among us." Reality bites. At least technology doesn't. My dog did once. But he doesn't do it anymore. I guess he still has a byte in him, but it's small and between his shoulder blades. It doesn't hurt, I don't think.