Writing Instruction Across the Curriculum

Vanessa J. Alander

Vanessa J. Alander

My introduction as the graduate assistant for Dr. Meg Petersen and the Plymouth Writing Project (PWP) has immersed in the world of writing instruction across the curriculum. The Plymouth Writing Project is the New Hampshire site of the National Writing Project, a network of university and K-12 faculty who coordinate professional development opportunities, cultivate resources, and conduct research to enhance the teaching of writing and learning in schools and communities.

My training for this position commenced with my participation in the Open Institute, a three-week intensive workshop that explored writing, current research on writing pedagogy, and hands-on writing techniques applicable to any grade level and subject. The tips, tricks, and techniques I gained through the Open Institute became immediately useful for the section of Composition I taught to PSU undergraduate students in the fall of 2009. I also assisted in Dr. Petersen’s English Composition course which afforded me the opportunity to observe a master teacher whose philosophy was akin to my own and to work with students of varying learning abilities. In addition, I had conversations with Dr. Petersen about classroom management, pedagogical approaches to differentiated writing instruction, and how compositional theory translates into classroom assignments; this was invaluable to my professional growth.

Over the past year, I have developed materials for the diverse institutes, author workshops, and camps that the PWP offers and I have worked with PWP members to create promotional materials for various teacher workshops. I also created the Voices 2010 publication, a compilation of middle and high school writers’ work. While creating these materials, I had the opportunity to work with talented teachers throughout New Hampshire. This collaborative work has helped to foster and hone my organizational skills, and given me experience working under short deadlines. Working together to create reasonable solutions, while challenging, is quite rewarding when you see the end product.

I will continue as the graduate assistant for the 2010-2011 academic year, and while my primary goal for my first year was to be immersed in the writing project, my goal for this year is to organize and streamline the ‘behind the scenes’ of the writing project. I plan to collect PWP-specific workshop information and compile it on a Wiki. This will help provide some continuity between graduate assistants and with the overall direction of the PWP.

“Teachers teaching Teachers” is the motto of the PWP. Teachers learn best from other teachers—this is something in which I have actively participated and witnessed during my experience with the PWP. The work of the PWP strives to have this type of active, collaborative learning become the norm in education today, and I am both proud and excited to have been a part of this organization.


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