The Shenandoah Valley Writing Project (SVWP) at Shenandoah University was recently selected to receive a 2017-2018 Advanced Institute to Scale Up the National Writing Project (NWP) College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) Grant in the amount of $20,000.
“I am thrilled that the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project has received this grant, which will allow us to invest in advanced training for 12 to 16 of our experienced middle and high school Writing Project teacher-leaders, who are known as teacher consultants,” said SVWP Director Mary Tedrow, M.Ed., NBCT, who authored the grant and who also serves as an adjunct at Shenandoah University and Lord Fairfax Community College. “These teacher consultants will be trained via the SVWP 2017 Invitational Summer Institute and throughout the 2017-18 school year.”
Each summer, the SVWP holds a four-week, Invitational Summer Institute for exemplary teachers from throughout the area. Those who attend this writing institute span all content areas, and through the learning process, they become teacher consultants. They are then expected to take their training and techniques back to their home school systems to train fellow educators in the process.
SVWP Co-Director Donna Schrum – who is both English Department Chair and an eighth grade English teacher at North Fork Middle School (Shenandoah County Public Schools) – will direct these teacher consultants to prepare lessons following the NWP’s CRWP guidelines. The grant funding covers classroom materials, representatives’ conference expenses, and stipends for these teacher consultants to eventually lead their peers in effective writing practices for college-ready writing in grades six through 12.
The professional development offered through the CRWP was the subject of a two-year study conducted by SRI International to determine the link between teacher professional development and student achievement. The CRWP was proven to have a positive impact on both teacher instruction and student writing. The study revealed that, even when administered across 22 districts in 10 states and by 12 different writing project sites, there was a positive and statistically significant effect on the student writing attributes of content, structure, stance and conventions.
The mission of the SVWP is to improve both writing instruction and the use of writing as a tool to enhance learning in all content areas, from kindergarten to the university setting. The group strives to elevate teachers to teacher-leaders and to raise the professional stature of classroom teachers. It also serves to support and enhance the literacy of the surrounding area through programs for both young writers and adults, in addition to its work with practicing educators.
The SVWP focuses on three core beliefs: 1) all students can and should view themselves as writers; 2) writing is the most effective tool for learning in all content areas; and 3) classroom teachers are the most effective teachers of others in their profession.
The program is led by Tedrow and Shenandoah University’s Director of Teacher Licensure and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Bowser, Ed.D., who serves as principal investigator and site director.