“Writing is the gateway to success in school and beyond—it’s the currency of the new workplace and global economy,” said OWP Director Linda Christensen. “The Oregon Writing Project’s programs help students read, solve problems, and understand concepts in every part of writing.”
OWP’s Summer Institute, now in its 25th year, is being held in the Portland, Newberg, and West Linn school districts, offering teachers a three to five day intensive workshop on teaching the writing process, including lessons plans and revision strategies. Participants discuss lessons that tie to multicultural and contemporary literature and develop a bank of genre-based craft lessons for each grade level.
“We also talk about the tough issues, like how to differentiate our curriculum with an increasingly diverse student body and how to work with students who don’t speak or write Standard English,” Christensen said.
By the end of the week, teachers design a writing curriculum to take back to their classrooms. Some examples of the curriculum teachers create include units on The Kite Runner, Persepolis, Of Mice and Men, Reading Poverty, Immigration, as well as units integrating science, social studies, and language arts.
Throughout the coming school year, OWP will continue running professional development programs, helping teachers in all subject areas and at all grade levels become members of a professional community where they can learn new strategies for helping their students become accomplished writers and learners. With funding from several multi-year grants, OWP serves some of the most underrepresented and neediest children in the state.
“For more than twenty years, OWP has been working with schools in the Portland metropolitan area, including the highest-need schools with the lowest test scores,” said Christensen. “Our goal is to create a lasting legacy for the schools where we can have the largest impact. For this reason, we chose to work with three schools during the 2008-09 school year where our program will impact teachers and administrators at multiple grade levels.”
At Clarendon-Portsmouth, OWP will work with a K-8 Spanish immersion school that feeds into the Spanish English International School (SEIS) at Roosevelt High School. At Jefferson High School, the organization will work with the 6-12 schools located on the Jefferson campus.
Additionally, OWP will spend the next two years working with Lane Middle School as part of a national research project that looks specifically at how OWP’s collaborative teaching program affects change in middle schools.