Local teachers and teacher leaders with the Eastern Illinois Writing Project recently completed a Professional Development Program that was conducted in the Martinsville school district throughout the 2013-2014 school year.
The program, titled "Professional Development in the Martinsville Schools: Language Arts Common Core,” was designed to build on the district’s assets: a strong commitment to authentic literacy instruction and new technology resources.
“Because Illinois has adopted the Common Core Standards, which promote more writing in every discipline, helping teachers of all subject areas teach writing and reading across the curriculum and across grade levels has become more important than ever before,” said Robin Murray, director of the Eastern Illinois Writing Project.
“The emphasis on literacy instruction in social studies, the sciences, technology and, of course, K-12 English language arts presents a particular need and opportunity for EIWP and the Martinsville Schools. With help from our teacher leaders, the Martinsville teachers are better able to navigate changes from the Illinois State Standards to the new Common Core,” she continued.
The program included six in-service half day writing to learn and writing and reading across the curriculum workshops; a full-day Institute Day on the campus of EIU; professional development reading groups focused on "Content Area Writing: Every Teachers' Guide, Digital Writing Matters," and works focused on the writing and reading workshop from Nancie Atwell and Ralph Fletcher.
Teachers were provided the opportunity to read professionally, participate in small and whole group discussions and learn and practice new teaching strategies that will ultimately improve student writing and learning. The teachers also wrote and shared their writing through journaling and group action projects, Murray said.
Martinsville Elementary School teachers that took part in the program were: Jill Terrell, preschool; Margo Riker, kindergarten; Sheri Cooper and Emily Ellington, first grade; Lynn Davidson and Kim Skidmore, second grade; Sheila Shotts and Nici Evers; third grade; Scott Price and Carrie Maxwell, fourth grade; Bethani Conzen, fifth grade; Bev Goekler and Kalee Dahnke, sixth grade; Deb Tracy, K-12 student resource specialist; Jessica Cannady, speech; Rachel Thurn, Title I instructor; Patty Hacker, special education instructor; and Cody Gray, physical education.
The teachers from Martinsville High School were: Stefanie Mack and Beth Baird, English; Bill Wofford and Michael Stephen, history; Paul Penrod and Julie Higginbotham, math; Ron Lee and Debra Welch, science; Michelle Cribelar and Craig Utterback, physical education; Katie Small, Spanish; Mark Kannamacher, industrial arts; Justin Parcel, ag department; Lora Parcel, family and consumer science; Lindsey Kinkelaar, business; and Sara Gray, special education instructor. District music teacher Laura Smeltzer also participated in the program.
Sessions were conducted by practicing teachers who have taken part in EIWP Summer Institutes. Each session included demonstrations of strategies, participant writing and time to brainstorm applications to various grade levels, content areas and topics. Sessions also included discussion of a professional book about the teaching of writing.
Participants received one Continuing Professional Development Unit per contact hour.
Area teachers serving as teacher leaders and presenters included Keri Buscher, Brownstown Elementary School; Kristin Runyon, Charleston High School; Mary St. Clair, Crestwood School; Jay Bickford, Dawn Paulson, Linda Raven, Denise Reid, Dana Stodden, EIU; Audrey Edwards, retired from EIU; Al Church and Misty Mapes, Teutopolis High School; Duane Huffman, Tuscola East Prairie Middle School; and Rebecca Lawson, Sullivan High School.
The Eastern Illinois Writing Project is a National Writing Project site housed in Coleman Hall at EIU. It seeks to provide K-16 teachers across the curriculum with opportunities to improve student writing in all disciplines; provide schools with an effective in-service model; identify, celebrate and enhance the professional role of successful classroom teachers; and apply a teacher-centered model to implement these goals.