Frequently Asked Questions

1Why do schools need the Writing Partnership?
Whether a school is working toward Common Core alignment or is simply working toward whole-school writing reform, it is imperative that the entire staff has a unified approach to teaching, assessing, and talking about writing. Gwen takes the time to come in and learn what a school’s current approach to writing instruction and assessment looks like across grade levels and content areas. Then she works with the staff to develop an effective, customized schoolwide writing program. Teachers and administrators are already overwhelmed with the task at hand. Using Gwen to evaluate the current program, come up with a customized plan for improvement, and then to help implement the plan allows teachers and administrators to continue running a school and teaching our children, while working toward improvement.
2Who gets involved in this program?
The program involves the entire teaching staff and administration at a school. Through professional learning community-style workshops, the entire staff learns and grows together as teachers of writing.
3What is the best time of year for this program to begin?
The best time to start this program is in the spring with the School Writing Program Audit. By completing the audit in the spring, teachers are able to provide valuable data regarding the school’s current writing program. This data is then evaluated over the summer, and a report is generated with recommendations for future work. The school and Gwen begin the year with a professional development plan that has a customized scope and sequence that build upon a school’s strengths and knowledge.
4Do you have any case studies or “proof” that this works?
Over the course of the last several years, Gwen has worked with numerous schools. Each one has received a customized professional development series that has led to overall improvement in each school’s writing programs and student achievement in writing. Please visit the testimonial page for more information.
5What is this program based on?
This program is based upon research regarding the most effective professional development programs as well as a school’s individual needs. Research shows that effective professional development requires at least 14 hours of contact between the trainer and the school. The best professional development creates an ongoing relationship between the trainer and staff. It is tailored to a school’s needs and culture. Gwen facilitates the process of evaluating and analyzing a school's entire writing program. Once this has happened she offers advice on next steps as well as services that help schools meet those next steps. Gwen uses research-based practices in her workshops and builds upon the knowledge base of the staff she is working with.
6What is the ideal situation for a school to be in so that it gets maximum benefit from the program?
In order to receive maximum benefit from working with Gwen, a school must be willing to commit to a long-term professional development plan. Teachers and administrators should be like-minded in a pursuit to create a unified approach to teaching and assessing writing in all grade levels and content areas. It is when staff is committed to investing time to look at where they are and determine where they want to be that Gwen can help bring about the best results.
7Are there any schools that should not have this program?
All schools would benefit from working with Gwen. The unique, customized approach that Gwen brings makes this program a good fit for any school looking to overhaul the entire writing program or to just fine-tune what they are already doing. Whether a school is heading toward whole-school writing reform or looking to add new components to their program, all teachers benefit from the professional development aspect of working with The Writing Partnership.
More Information on Customized Workshops


Integrated Unit Design

In this workshop, participants learn a step-by-step approach to designing rigorous units of study that are aligned with content standards while integrating the Common Core State Standards. By the end of the workshop, each participant will leave with an outline of a unit that they have designed to teach in his or her specific classroom. Gwen is available for support following the workshop to help refine lessons, develop needed resources, and provide feedback on the unit.

Best Practices in Grammar and Usage Instruction

Research shows that the “worksheet” approach to teaching grammar and usage has little impact on students’ conventions when writing. This workshop presents a variety of research-based approaches to teaching grammar and usage that transfer to students’ writing. Participants will leave this workshop with a plan of action and the tools to integrate grammar instruction into their writing units. Follow-up support from Gwen is available to help develop and refine lessons as well as gather resources.

Learning Progressions in the Common Core Writing and Language Standards

What is your school’s roadmap for learning, from grade to grade, in ELA? This workshop helps teachers understand the learning progressions integrated into the Common Core State Standards for ELA, specifically in writing and language. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a clear view of what is expected of students in their current grade as well as the grades prior and following. Resources will be provided that lay out the progressions for writing skills, grammar, and usage in a clear format. Schools can use this information to help create a writing program that builds upon itself from year to year. Using these learning progressions helps students and teachers know where they are going and develop a plan regarding how to get there.

All-School Writing Assessment Data Discussion

This is a two-part workshop. The first part is dedicated to discovering what “proficient” writing looks like at each grade level. Participants spend time looking at actual student writing to collaborate and come to agreement on scoring practices. Once the staff is calibrated, they spend time scoring pieces from their all-school writing assessments. Data is collected and recorded to be used in the second part of the workshop. The second part of the workshop is dedicated to analyzing the data and how it will influence instruction. Participants leave the workshop with specific instructional goals for their students and strategies to reach them.

Best Practices in Writing Instruction

In this hands-on workshop, participants learn and practice a variety of research-based teaching strategies that get results.

Disciplinary Literacy – Reading and Writing Like a Historian, Mathematician, or Scientist

There has been much talk about how the Common Core State Standards require all teachers to be teachers of literacy. What does this mean for content-area teachers? What does it look like? This workshop engages participants in an in-depth discussion regarding what literacy looks like in each discipline and effective strategies to teach disciplinary literacy without compromising the teaching of the content. Participants leave the session with an action plan and tools that can be used to design a unit or lesson plan that meets content standards as well as disciplinary literacy standards from the Common Core State Standards. Gwen is available for follow-up team meetings to support teachers as they take on this shift in their content-area teaching.