"I always wanted to teach writing more in my middle school Language Arts classroom but I just didn't know how to do it. The logistics of working through the writing process, let alone using any digital publication tools, with 100+ students was too overwhelming. Working with the students at Young Writers' Camp gave me a place to learn and experiment with the writing process without any extra stress or pressure. I became more confident with my knowledge of the process and digital writing tools which helped me teach writing better in my own classroom." - Laura Cameron, a middle school teacher.
What to Expect at Gate City Writes
Welcome! We’re so glad you are considering joining us this summer for Gate City Writes. This schedule snapshot will give you a feel for the types of learning activities you can expect. The most important thing to know is that the Gate City Writes experience is not a typical “sit and get” professional development, nor is it a crash course in a new product or program. Instead your days will be a balance between investing in yourself as a writer, expanding your repertoire of strategies for integrating writing with your course content, and practicing those new techniques with young writers in grades 3-12 who attend UNCG’s Young Writers’ Camp. We draw energy and enthusiasm from the Young Writers’ Camp and benefit from the opportunity to practice new ideas alongside growing writers in a low-stakes setting.
Investing in Yourself as a Writer
Many teachers assign and grade students’ writing, but when was the last time you got to make your own writing a priority? Whether you see yourself as an accomplished writer or as a novice, you will brainstorm, develop, workshop, refine and publish a piece of your own writing. You will spend time writing every day as well as collaborating with other teacher-writers. Positioning yourself as a writer lets you experience first-hand the fears, frustrations, collaboration, development and sense of accomplishment that comes from writing. Shifting into this writer’s mindset will unlock ideas for ways to work with and support your students when they struggle with writing. You will experience a Writers’ Workshop model, practice strengths-based feedback, and develop an approach to writing that balances instruction with evaluation.
Expanding Your Repertoire of Student-Centered, Content-Aligned Instructional Strategies
Teacher-Writers will think deeply about the forms, topics, audiences and purposes of writing in their disciplines and in the grades/courses they teach. In the past, your writing instruction may have relied on prescriptive formats, such as the five-paragraph essay, or rote procedures, such as brainstorm/draft/edit/publish. Sometimes those models produce the student writing we hope for, but often we’re left giving the same feedback over and over while our students repeat the same mistakes. Learn to invest your time strategically by helping students develop ideas and write about them, rather than spending your time making comments on papers that wind up in the recycling bin. You will learn techniques for modeling effective writing, using mentor texts from your content area, engaging in collaborative language-play, and facilitating constructive peer feedback sessions.
Practicing New Techniques
Think about the best professional development session you’ve ever attended. You probably left with a list of great ideas that you wanted to implement in your classroom. But when you got back to school, did competing priorities, deadlines, testing, or tight schedules keep you from making some of those ideas a reality? Teacher-writers in Gate City Writes have the opportunity to learn new techniques for teaching writing and then practice them within the week with campers at UNCG’s Young Writers’ Camp. Working with individual students and small groups of willing writers allows you to practice and get comfortable with new techniques without all the “noise” of the typical school day and outside the spotlight of your school or classroom. You can concentrate on refining your craft in this low-stakes environment with a handful of learners and with the support of your fellow teacher-writers and instructor. On the final day of Gate City Writes you will schedule a consultation for the following school-year with one our instructors. This is meant to provide support as you integrate some of these concepts into your classroom.
This is a description of a possible schedule. We will build the curriculum of the conference based on the needs of participants.
July 10-13, 2017 9:00-10:00: Participants will brainstorm, write, revise, edit, and publish a piece of writing. The content and genre of that publication is decided by the participant. 10:15-11:15:Participants will have the opportunity to facilitate peer feedback, writing conferences, and composition strategies with children (grades 3-12) in UNCG's Young Writers' Camp. 11:30-12:15: Lunch 12:30-4:00: Participants will debrief about their work with the young writers' camp. Educators will learn about pedagogical concepts for the teaching of writing, with a particular emphasis on using digital and social media. Teachers will have the opportunity to develop plans and assessments that they can use in their classroom.