Friday, June 20, 2014

Teachers Teaching Teachers

Robin Belcher (kindergarten) and her sister Tammie Davis (2nd grade)
This week I had the opportunity to teach a writing workshop for thirteen teachers from Buchanan and Dickenson County. The class was called Writing Strategies for Every Classroom Teacher and it was offered by the University of Virginia's College at Wise and the Appalachian Writing Project (AWP). Since 2006, I have been a teacher consultant for AWP which is a branch of the National Writing Project (NWP), and I have given in-services for teachers across southwestern Virginia.

Carolyn Mitchell (special education) and Phyllis Mullins (7th civics)
Wanda Perry teaches K-5 Art and Music
NWP is a network of sites anchored at colleges and universities and serving teachers across disciplines and at all levels, early childhood through university. NWP provides professional development, develops resources, generates research, and acts on knowledge to improve the teaching of writing and learning in schools and communities. Co-directed by faculty from the local university and from K–12 schools, nearly 200 local sites serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sites work in partnership with area school districts to offer high-quality professional development programs for educators (
Dot Owens (1st) and Rebecca Burniston and Codi Layne (Pre-K)
I began the week with writing activities I had used with my students because NWP is based on the principle of teachers teaching teachers their best practices of teaching writing across the curriculum. Some of the activities I provided centered on using the students' "favorite subject" - themselves! We also discussed how students can write about themselves using multigenres.

The workshop also featured presentations by other members of AWP. TC Tammy Williams showed us how to use books to produce great "opening lines" for our writing.
Teacher Consultant Tammy Williams
TC Amber Couch discussed how to do research with our students using the I-Search method. She gave us strategies for teaching students how to form their research questions as well as conduct the research and put it together into a paper. A librarian, Amber talked about how students use the library to conduct research.
Teacher Consultant Amber Couch

TC Robin Justus ended the workshop with her presentation - Book Arts. Robin brought materials and led us through making books of all shapes and sizes while giving us strategies how to use them with our students. We practiced making books and had many examples to take back to our classrooms.
TC Robin Charles shows Angie Slemp how to cut the pages

The teachers attending the workshop also shared their ideas. The teachers brought an activity they have success with in the classroom and shared it with the group.Teachers teaching teachers in action!
Robin Belcher shared a "froggy" idea.
Tammie Davis 
Phyllis Mullins 

Tabitha Keen binding a book.
The week was filled with learning new ways to add more writing into our classes. It didn't matter that our group ranged from Pre-K teachers to 7th grade civics, we all found activities that could be adapted to our grade levels and subject area. After all, no one can take a paper towel roll, empty oatmeal containers, yarn, glitter, and glue and produce a masterpiece like a teacher.

Karen Coleman and Angie Slemp
The week was filled with laughter and learning, writing and sharing (which produced a few tears), but it was a fun-filled learning experience for all.  At the end of the workshop, I got a profusion of thank you's from teachers who went out the door carrying activities they could implement in their classes on the first day of school. The class had achieved its goal - Writing Strategies for Every Classroom Teacher
Rita Baily and Pam Fields

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