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Log in to Witsby: ASCD’s Next-Generation Professional Learning and Credentialing Platform
October 1, 2004
Vol. 62
No. 2

Web Wonders / Writing!

Web Wonders / Writing!- thumbnail
Do you need help making the case for the importance of writing? The following Web sites explore some of the research, strategies, and tools available to help you make writing a priority.

A Challenge to Change

The 2003 report from the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges (www.writingcommission.org) issues a challenge to raise the standards for writing education in the United States. The 44-page report, The Neglected “R”: The Need for a Writing Revolution (www.writingcommission.org/prod_downloads/writingcom/neglectedr.pdf), calls for increasing the amount of time and money devoted to student writing and for making writing part of all curriculums at all grade levels. It also emphasizes the need to apply technology to the teaching and assessment of writing.

Support for Teachers

The National Council of Teachers of English (www.ncte.org) serves English teachers at all levels of education as well as specialists and professionals in the field. Its mission is to promote the development of literacy through the learning and teaching of English and the related arts and sciences of language. Use the left navigation menu on the Council's Web site to quickly access information by scholastic level or interest group.
To find out what the research says about writing, go directly to the Council's Writing Initiative (www.ncte.org/prog/writing). The Writing Initiative is a public service campaign that raises awareness of the issues surrounding writing education. It provides professional development to schools and educators and a database of writing policies, programs, and practices.

The Meeting of Minds

The National Writing Project (www.writingproject.org), a network of 185 sites across the United States, gives teachers access to effective practices and research findings about the teaching of writing. The Project offers training programs for K-16 teachers and conducts an annual summer institute at each of its sites, where teachers gather to share ideas and improve their own skills by writing themselves. During the school year, National Writing Project teachers bring their knowledge back to their communities by leading workshops in schools. These teachers play a leadership role in helping to raise the quality of writing education for students.
Visit the Project's Web site for a calendar of events and information on programs and publications. You can also search for a Project site in your area or get information on starting one.

Lesson Plans and Fun with Writing

The Literacy Matters project (www.literacymatters.org) provides resources for three main audiences—teachers, parents, and adolescents—and focuses on improving the literacy skills of struggling middle school and high school students. The Web site is hosted by the Education Development Center, a nonprofit organization that researches and develops programs on a range of education-related topics.
For resources on writing in the various content areas, visit the Writing section of the site (www.literacymatters.org/content/readandwrite/writing.htm). The site offers teachers research-based strategies, lesson plans, activities, and professional development opportunities to help improve students' literacy skills. Parents will find ways to extend classroom learning experiences to the home; students can participate in online tutorials.
ReadWriteThink (www.readwritethink.org) focuses on the development of literacy skills in grades K-12 and serves as an online resource for standards-based lesson plans. The site is a partnership among the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the MarcoPolo Education Foundation. Visit ReadWriteThink's Lesson Plan Index (www.readwritethink.org/lessons) for a list of lessons and various ways to sort and match them to your grade level, literacy standard, or area of focus. Then, click on a lesson title for a comprehensive plan that includes an overview of the topic, objectives, instructions, activities, and assessments or opportunities for further student reflection. The site includes a resource section of useful Web sites related to the English language arts and a comprehensive section of student materials, which provides links to interactive tools that enable students to use the Internet while building their literacy skills. Each tool's description includes a list of the ReadWriteThink lessons that incorporate that tool.
WritingFix.com (www.writingfix.com), sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project and the National Writing Project, features interactive writing activities and includes sections to inspire left-brained (logical) and right-brained (creative) thinkers. The resources provide access to tools, games, punctuation and grammar lessons, and online publishing contests. Educators can find ideas for writing assignments, select online activities for students, or improve their own writing. The site is dynamic, featuring a number of drop-down menus and ways to access content, and it is continually updated with new material.

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