CURRINS 741 UWM Writing Project: Teacher Leadership in Writing

Course Description – Bringing together a group of experienced teachers from all disciplines, kindergarten through college, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Writing Project supports teachers in a like-minded professional community to study current and past research in the field of writing that will impact the participants’ development as writers, teachers of writers, and leaders in the field of writing.

The Invitational Summer Institute (ISI) is comprised of two three-credit graduate courses. UWM-WP Teachers as Writers inquires into the practical and theoretical question, “How might teachers of writing become more proficient writers?” Taken concurrently with Teacher Leadership in Writing, this second course complicates this initial question by asking writers, “How might writers become more proficient teachers of writing?”

Participants in the ISI examine their abilities as writers and teachers of writing as they inquire into:

  • What does it means to be “proficient” writers?
  • What are efficient methods of teaching writing and will these methods be effective for all writers?
  • How might the genre, audience, purpose, and context for particular writing tasks influence a writer’s proficiency?
  • How might race, class, culture, age, or gender influence perceptions of writing at a “proficient” level?
  • What demands do different disciplines place on writers and how does this change the teaching of writing?
  • What role does evaluation and standardized assessment play in the teaching of writing?
  • What writing practices are encouraged in schools?
  • How might evaluations of writing proficiency be influenced by second language learning? Dialect?
  • How might expectations for writing change across age, race, culture, gender, grade level, discipline and/or profession?

In order to become more proficient writers and more proficient teachers of writing, participants will study themselves, one another, and others as writers in and out of academic settings. Mining what they know from their lived experiences as writers, participants turn to the experiences of others to expand their understandings of the complex variables and issues that influence the development of writers. Participants examine and compare their understandings to those of others, including other practitioners, researchers, and theorists in the field of composition, rhetoric and education. Participants will analyze the evolving role and function of writing and will scrutinize issues that relate to composers, composing, compositions, and contexts. This institute, then, functions at various times as a seminar, workshop, and laboratory.


  • Improve writing instruction (WTS 1, 4)
  • Develop as teacher-researchers (WTS 10)
  • Identify and develop various genres of writing (WTS 1, 3, 4, 7)
  • Closely read and critically analyze theory and research about writing in classrooms (WTS 1, 9)
  • Synthesize and evaluate various methods that enhance writing instruction (WTS 1, 9)
  • Recognize and use a variety of written forms to examine the use of composition theory and to incorporate that theory into teaching pedagogy (WTS 1, 4)
  • Think critically and foster an understanding of styles of teaching writing (WTS 3)
  • Explore methods of assessing writing that are material appropriate: such as portfolios, revision, and compliance assessment (WTS 3, 4, 8, 9)
  • Use professional research tools (WTS 1)
  • Develop as teacher leaders in the field of writing (WTS 1, 4, 6, 9)

Course Projects

1.  Teacher Inquiry Workshop (40%): This project demonstrates a fellow’s ability to serve as a leader in the field of writing.  Fellows design and present a 90-minute presentation developed around one of the following two strategies:  identifying something in his/her teaching that continues to trouble them and learn alternative strategies or viewpoints that address that concern and prepare a workshop to share his/her discoveries with the entire group. The teacher inquiry workshop will include the following distributable materials:

  • Outline
  • Theoretical statement addressing professional concern linked to research
  • Standards
  • Directions/procedures that link an activity where participants are writing and sharing to the theoretical statement that drives the demonstration (may be in the form of Power Point)
  • Handouts, materials, and artifacts necessary to enact the demonstration

Fellows compose a 3-5 page response that analyzes their demonstrations in terms of the feedback received (as evidenced by your observations and the letters you receive) and their own critical reflection on their work as teacher educators and leaders.

2.  Research Project (30%): Fellows select a form of transactional writing that represents their thinking relating to an issue they identify in the field of writing or writing instruction.  This piece of writing is informed by scholarly reading and personal experiences in the summer institute.  This writing will be published on UWMWP anthology.

3.  Reading Group (20%): Fellows engage in professional reading, analyze texts that describe writing, teaching practices, research, theories, and philosophies.  Fellows will maintain a reading log that includes the following:

  • Developed responses to three passages from the common text that struck or troubled them that connects to their understanding of teaching writing
  •  Developed responses to other professional reading that occurs throughout the summer institute.

4. Professionalism (10%): Much will be accomplished in this workshop during meeting time, so it is important that fellows attend regularly and respect their colleagues’ time and efforts.   Fellows will participate in all planned/organized sessions, provide thoughtful and detailed commentary, critically respond to materials studied and shared, and support their colleagues.

Fellows will show up for workshop activities prepared with all necessary materials. There are always special circumstances to consider.  Fellows should consult facilitators regarding their special circumstances.


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