What We Do

School-Year Inservice Program

Our school-year professional development model has three mutually-reinforcing components:

  • the services of an on-site teacher consultant who works directly with teachers, staff developers, students, and administrators
  • an after-school graduate seminar or study group in the teaching of writing, reading and other literacies held on-site each semester for school faculty
  • direct work with the schools' administrators, focused on their literacy goals

On-Site Consulting and Classroom Support

On-site support for teachers is provided by a NYCWP teacher-consultant who spends at least one day each week per school working with teachers to plan lessons and projects, coach and model in classrooms, team-teach, recommend and share resources, examine student work samples and assessment data to determine future instructional goals, and encourage the publication of student writing through anthologies, displays, and weblogs. In their work in classrooms, teacher-consultants support teachers so that they can successfully implement balanced literacy practices. They help teachers to initiate and sustain writing groups and literature circles and model ways to introduce students to active listening, accountable talk, revision and editing processes, and writing strategies that foster comprehension and encourage an active critical response to challenging content area texts. They help teachers to establish classroom environments that are rich in resources and in which independent, small-group and whole-class literacy activities can flourish.

Teacher-consultants also meet with grade-level groups and interdisciplinary teams, participate in department meetings, lead after-school professional development, and organize/facilitate meetings to assist school planning teams with curricular changes. The consultant supports school-based coaches to enable them to serve as leaders for instructional change in their schools. Teacher-consultants also participate in school professional development committees to review and design strategies for implementing reform in curricula, assessment, and pedagogy in classrooms.

Through its teacher-consultants the NYCWP builds leadership within and across schools. They help teachers to set up model classrooms for visits by colleagues. They design structured formats for teachers to share and analyze student work samples and assignments at school meetings. They invite and train teachers, coaches and administrators to co-lead NYCWP graduate seminars, thereby nurturing and developing the leadership capacities of successful practitioners. They encourage participating teachers to initiate, facilitate, or participate in study groups and make formal presentations of successful classroom practice at regional meetings and professional conferences, including the annual NYCWP Teacher to Teacher conference.

Graduate Seminars

During the school year the NYCWP offers after-school graduate seminars on-site at a school or at Lehman College. Groups of teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals from schools, or clusters of schools within a region or network are invited to attend. This service is usually combined with the services of an on-site teacher consultant. All seminars are experiential and focus on issues of literacy.

Basic Seminar

An introduction to the work of the Writing Project, the basic seminar or Seminar in Writing Theory, develops a community of learners in a school or district by bringing educators together to read, write, and reflect on teaching, learning, and literacy in the urban classroom. Participants learn ways to enrich their classroom practice by: 

  • Exploring writing as a process that moves from composing through revision to publication and assessment
  • Sharing writing and reading in peer response groups
  • Developing instructional approaches to support students as writers, readers, and learners across subject areas
  • Examining current research in the teaching of writing and reading
  • Adapting specific activities to help students meet ELA standards and other assessments

Advanced Seminars

Teachers who have completed the basic seminar may continue their professional development through an advanced graduate-level seminar that is tailored to school needs and has an applied focus. Special topics may include: 

  • Supporting literacy across the curriculum
  • Reading and writing connections
  • Exploration and essay
  • Research and I-search
  • Using technology to support literacy development
  • Learning and cultural diversity
  • Literacy assessment

Study Groups

These small-group sessions are designed for educators interested in exploring a particular topic more fully. Participants have the opportunity to identify an area of concern and to engage in a collaborative inquiry which might include professional reading, teacher research, review of student work, and discussion of emerging school issues. The Writing Project facilitates two types of forums: 

  • Reflective teacher groups offer participants the opportunity to explore topics of collective concern such as literacy assessment, reading and writing in the disciplines, supporting English language learners, and curriculum for student-centered classrooms. Methods include teacher research, text-based discussions, and descriptive review.
  • Administrator groups, intended for school principals and assistant principals, focus on understanding, promoting, and sustaining effective practices in literacy. Participants examine student work, read and discuss current articles that address issues of policy and practice in literacy education, and experience reading and writing workshops. Participants gain insights and strategies to improve their schools, connect content and performance standards to student-centered pedagogy, and consider ways to help their schools learn from achievement data.

Professional Development Series

The NYCWP, upon consultation with a school or region, will also design and present series of workshops or professional development sessions to address the specific and unique needs of their teachers and administrators. These are offered after-school on-site or on Saturdays for five to ten sessions, for up to a total of 20 hours. These workshops are designed to address the needs of particular audiences such as new teachers, ELL teachers, or educators of specific content areas. These series can also focus on topics of special interest within a school or across a network. These might include: strategies for supporting readers in content areas, essay writing, or using new technologies to support literacy. Within these workshops, educators have opportunities to collaborate on the design of classroom projects and activities aligned with New York State and City content and performance standards.

Teacher-to-Teacher Conference

Inaugurated in 1998, this conference brings together all the inservice participants Citywide from our elementary, middle and high school programs. Selected Writing Project teachers are invited to present their work in an experiential, interactive format. Conducted by teachers for teachers, the workshops are both a celebration of our work and a valuable source of strategies for urban teachers. In the past they have included workshops on such topics as: looking at student work; using gallery walks to introduce a unit of study; memoir writing in the history classroom; the challenge of revision; and the use of storyboards with novels.

Celebratory Reading

Our annual Celebratory Reading provides students of Writing Project teachers an opportunity to read aloud their finished work to an appreciative audience of their teachers, family, and friends. This honoring of student achievement also honors the successes of teachers who have used the writing process to help their students find their own voices.

Summer Programs

New York City Writing Project (NYCWP) offers intensive institutes every summer. These institutes give teachers from all over the City the opportunity to study together in a community of peers on Lehman College's beautiful campus. These summer intensives are designed to build and sustain a local community of like-minded professionals. Ranging from one to four weeks, the institutes focus on the theory and practice of writing, often with an emphasis on a particular issue or topic.

As a lead site of the National Writing Project (NWP), two of the NYCWP's institutes are sponsored by the NWP with funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Instruction is provided by senior NYCWP staff who bring years of classroom experience and exceptional knowledge of urban education.

NYCWP Annual Invitational Institute

This intensive four-week institute has been a feature of NYCWP summer programs since 1978. Offered to teachers who use writing successfully in their classrooms and wish to share their practices with other teachers, this institute seeks to develop leaders who will return to their schools to share with their colleagues what they have learned. In addition to offering new approaches in the teaching of writing, this institute also offers teachers time to work on their own writing, both personal and professional, and develop presentations of their classroom practice. The NYCWP Annual Invitational Institute is sponsored by the National Writing Project and is at the heart of the NWP model of developing teacher knowledge and leadership.

NYCWP Advanced Institute

Open to teachers who have taken previous Writing Project institutes, these intensive three-week programs help to build teachers' skills in specialized areas. For the last three years, for example, advanced institutes have focused on classroom uses of technology Ð how it can facilitate research, encourage reflection, support communication and composition, and be used to design websites. Funded by the National Writing Project, admission is open, and participants may receive tuition-waived graduate credits or a stipend.

Open Institute

This institute is designed as a two- to three-week intensive investigation of a topic of particular interest to the profession. In recent years, for example, middle school teachers explored literature for classroom use. Participants read fiction and nonfiction, planned classroom activities related to these readings, developed ways to teach a variety of texts, and created annotated bibliographies for use in middle grades. Work from these multi-summer institutes contributed to a publication on literature for young adolescents. Open Institutes are funded by the NYC Department of Education or by private funders.

Teacher Leadership Institute

This two- to three-day institute serves past participants in NYCWP programs who are interested in further professional development and involvement with the Writing Project. These institutes develop participants' capacities for leadership by considering how issues of literacy and learning can be framed and addressed, by presenting structures for conducting meetings and facilitating study groups, and by developing skills for consulting with and presenting work to peers. Participants may receive a stipend.

Youth Writers Institute

This two- or three-week institute is for students entering the 11th and 12th grades who are interested in experimenting with a range of writing forms including poetry, journalism, storytelling, and dramatic writing. Students participate in daily writing workshops, learn from visiting authors, and meet other young writers in a supportive environment. They also explore career possibilities in the world of professional writing, and use technology for writing, research, and publication. An anthology of student writing is published at the conclusion of each institute. Admission is open to high school students at no cost, some of whom may be eligible for tuition-waived undergraduate credit. Dependent upon foundation or corporate support, this program is offered when funding is available.

Teaching and Writing with Technology

Ever since our first Advanced Summer Institute for Technology in 2000 teachers in the New York City Writing Project have strived to bring the work we do with students to more and more colleagues. Decades of theory, research and tested practice in the teaching of reading and writing across the curriculum are re-mediated (Bolter and Grusin, 2000) through our work with new media in classrooms, workshops and institutes for teachers.

Two projects that NYCWP teachers have developed over the past ten years, Youth Voices and Teachers Teaching Teachers, foster networks of students and teachers both locally and nationally.

Youth Voices is a school-based social network that was started in 2003 by a group of NYCWP and National Writing Project teachers, merging earlier blogging projects into one new platform. YV’s mission is to support individual students to read and write about their own passions, to connect with other students, comment on each other’s work, through writing and multimedia. It’s been exciting for the teachers involved with Youth Voices to pool knowledge about curriculum and digital literacies, and we welcome any teacher interested in participating in Youth Voices.

Teachers Teaching Teachers started in the early months of 2006 when Paul Allison, Lee Baber, and Susan Ettenheim started making their private Skype conversations public. The goal of this endeavor was to crowdsource planning and fast track additional teachers into some relevant professional development in technology while building communities of practice. Paul Allison, Monika Hardy, and Chris Sloan currently host conversations about teaching and learning every Wednesday evening at 9:00 EST (Americas). In the summer of 2011, the TTT podcasts shifted to videocasts, and meet on Google+ Hangouts On Air, which are embedded live at EdTechTalk. These conversations are then posted on YouTube and they are archived as a podcast on Teachers Teaching Teachers, at EdTechTalk and in iTunes.

Together we are searching for the most effective practices in technology, reading and producing research, and improving our knowledge of new media by using it ourselves. Two core purposes drive this process: developing teacher knowledge and leadership in our own schools and districts and putting this knowledge and leadership to work to improve student online reading and writing through the use of social networks, blogs, wikis, podcasts and webcasts.