The San Antonio Writing Project, housed in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio, is the local site of the National Writing Project and a collaborative program between the UTSA and San Antonio area schools.
SAWP’s mission is to be a vital resource for local teachers and schools in the arena of writing, and it strives to serve as a model of professional development excellence, teacher leadership, and reform. Currently, SAWP is in its ninth year of existence and is made up of 140 teachers K-College from across the San Antonio area. SAWP also helped create and partners with the Limpopo Writing Project in South Africa. As the local site of NWP, it is important to detail what NWP (and thus SAWP) stands for.
About the National Writing Project
The National Writing Project (NWP) is a professional development network that serves teachers of writing at all grade levels, primary through university, and in all subjects. The mission of the NWP is to improve student achievement by improving the teaching of writing and improving learning in the nation’s schools.
A Network of University-Based Sites
The 190 plus local sites that make up the NWP network are hosted by universities and colleges. Co-directed by faculty from the local university and from K–12 schools, local sites serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sites work in partnership with area school districts to offer high-quality professional development programs for educators.
A Successful Model Customized for Local Needs
NWP sites share a national program model, adhering to a set of shared principles and practices for teachers’ professional development, and offering programs that are common across the network. In addition to developing a leadership cadre of local teachers (called “teacher-consultants”) through invitational summer institutes, NWP sites design and deliver customized inservice programs for local schools, districts, and higher education institutions, and they provide a diverse array of continuing education and research opportunities for teachers at all levels.
National research studies have confirmed significant gains in writing performance among students of teachers who have participated in NWP programs. The NWP is the only federally funded program that focuses on the teaching of writing. Support for the NWP is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, foundations, corporations, universities, and K-12 schools. . The National Writing Project is an authorized professional development provider under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (otherwise known as No Child Left Behind). Title I and II funds under this NCLB Act may be used by schools and school districts for NWP-lead in-service.
NWP Core Principles
The core principles at the foundation of NWP’s national program model are:
- Teachers at every level—from kindergarten through college—are the agents of reform; universities and schools are ideal partners for investing in that reform through professional development.
- Writing can and should be taught, not just assigned, at every grade level. Professional development programs should provide opportunities for teachers to work together to understand the full spectrum of writing development across grades and across subject areas.
- Knowledge about the teaching of writing comes from many sources: theory and research, the analysis of practice, and the experience of writing. Effective professional development programs provide frequent and ongoing opportunities for teachers to write and to examine theory, research, and practice together systematically.
- There is no single right approach to teaching writing; however, some practices prove to be more effective than others. A reflective and informed community of practice is in the best position to design and develop comprehensive writing programs.
- Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform.
The NWP website contains more information and a wealth of excellent resources.