National Writing Project awards $38,000 grant to Fairfield University-based Connecticut Writing Project


The National Writing Project has awarded $38,000 to the Connecticut Writing Project (CWP) at Fairfield University for 2003-2004 to aid in enhancing its program of strengthening students' writing abilities by improving the teaching and learning of writing and expanding the professional role of teachers.

The grant to CWP is matched by funds from the budget of the Connecticut State legislature. An additional supporting grant comes from the Tauck Foundation.

"The Connecticut Writing Project - Fairfield is part of a national network that uses the model of teachers teaching teachers," said Faye Gage, Director of CWP-Fairfield. "Through the exchange of ideas by highly qualified professionals and the use of current research regarding theory and effective practices in promoting literacy among students of all ages, participants in the various CWP Institutes learn both theory and appropriate strategies to bring back to their classrooms."

This form of professional development is one of the few that is deemed effective by the Carnegie Institute and is unique in that it offers a network of supportive activities for teachers who have already been in the classroom but want to continue to improve their teaching skills, Gage said. "Teachers come away from the CWP-Fairfield Institutes reinvigorated and newly committed to being lifelong learners. They become dedicated to improving the literacy of their students," Gage said.

CWP-Fairfield is in its third year of existence at Fairfield University. It has trained more than 250 teachers, kindergarten through college, in areas such as math, science, history, English and language arts. CWP-Fairfield offers a rich assortment of programs including nationally recognized speakers on reading, writing and learning issues; the Institute on the Teaching of Literature for Grades 6-12, a weeklong program focusing on ways to promote students' interest in reading and writing in a reader response classroom; the Young Writers Institute, a two week program for students entering grades 6-11; and an Advanced Writers Institute, for past fellows.

The goals of CWP-Fairfield include improving the writing and learning skills of students' in kindergarten through college; extending the uses of writing in all disciplines; providing schools, colleges and universities with an effective professional development model and identifying, celebrating and enhancing the professional role of successful classroom teachers.

The grant will be spent to bring 18 Fellows to Fairfield University for a four week, intensive Institute in the Teaching of Writing. During this time, teachers will do research in regard to theory and practice in teaching writing, they will write and share their writing on both personal and professional issues, and they will give demonstrations on the results of their research and their own successful classroom practices. Former Fellows will attend sessions to share their own experiences and to coach the new demonstrations.

Teachers who complete the Institute become teacher-leaders who provide staff development for teachers in their own and other districts. Currently, teacher-leaders are working at Smalley Academy in New Britain, Six to Six Magnet School in Bridgeport, the high schools and middle schools in Norwalk, Bridgeport, Bethel, Westport, and New Fairfield as well as elementary schools in Groton, Bethel and Hartford. Particular emphasis is on providing staff development in schools where there are many low-income students for whom English is a second language.

Since Connecticut law requires teachers to complete their Master's Degree within 5 years of initial certification, teachers in this area need to take courses for which credit is available. Teachers may take all of CWP-Fairfield's summer courses for credit.

Questions about CWP-Fairfield programs should be directed to Chris Lawton at (203) 254-4000 ext. 3124.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 28, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 274