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Writing Workshop Presents Positive Experiences For Students And Teachers

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – The Writing Institute has become a program that has brought together elementary teachers from throughout the Oswego City School District.

Oswego elementary teachers and administrators were all working together at the recent Writing Institute workshop at SUNY Oswego. As a result of this four-day session it is expected Oswego students will benefit in the area of writing and literacy.
Oswego elementary teachers and administrators were all working together at the recent Writing Institute workshop at SUNY Oswego. As a result of this four-day session it is expected Oswego students will benefit in the area of writing and literacy.

Recently, dozens of teachers gathered for the four-day Writing Institute.

Mentoring and District Liaison Cheri Beck said, “This collaborative partnership between the Oswego City School District, SUNY Oswego and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project provided an outstanding event.”

In April, the Oswego City School District received a $10,000 Entergy grant for a four-day summer writing institute to be conducted by the Teachers College, Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University.

The local program kicked off on Aug. 4 at Sheldon Hall on the SUNY Oswego campus.

Beck said, “Guest author Eileen Crane, a Young Adult Delcorte Prize winner for her book Skin Deep was on hand. She challenged all of the participants to realize the effect teaching can have on children and motivated teachers to incorporate rich writing experiences into our daily curriculum.”

The Writing Institute was introduced to the district as part of a pilot program at the Kingsford Park Elementary School. Literacy Reading Specialist Joan Dain attended a workshop in New York City and shared her excitement with teachers.

It was through her determined efforts and dedication that Entergy joined in supporting the institute.

Beck explained, “During the 2007-08 school year approximately 20 teachers from each of the five Oswego elementary schools participated in a year long in-service which trained them to implement the ‘Units of Writing’ into their daily schedule.”

What started out last fall as a group of excited Kingsford Park Elementary School teachers grew with enthusiastic teachers from Frederick Leighton, Charles E. Riley, Minetto, Fitzhugh Park and the Oswego Middle School.

Dain said, “The Oswego City School District is incredibly grateful for Entergy’s generous financial support of this worthwhile project. This grant allowed us to develop a highly effective professional development writing workshop for the students in our community.”

Beck explained, “The Writing Institute was designed for educators, classroom teachers and curriculum specialists to turn classrooms into rich writing and reading workshops.”

During the recent workshop at SUNY Oswego, Beck noted, “Some of the topics that were discussed included developing units of study in writing, using literature to help students craft their writing and the importance of assessment based instruction.”

Two staff developers from the Reading and Writing Project traveled north from New York City.

Beck noted, “Katie Even and Ellen Ellis worked with staff from the Oswego City School District to develop a Writing Institute that mirrors the long-standing Writing Institute at Teachers College in New York City.”

The summer program reinforced the training and provided tremendous momentum to the initiative.

Taking advantage of the opportunity were Leighton teachers Amy Armet, Michelle Baroody, Stacia Bartlett, Natalie Canale, Gretchen Coakley, Wendy Ballard, Jennifer Symborski and Anna Lombardo.

From Minetto were Doreen Bednarski, Barb Buske, Angela Campbell, Kelly Lewis, Kathleen Shafer, JoAnn Syrell, Robin Tryon, Leeanne VanDurme, Heather Lynch, Kathryn Palange, Tracy Anderson, Nicole Freebern, Janet Knight, Paula Weigelt and Nancy Zawisza.

Teachers from Kingsford Park participating included Mary Bullard, Mary Maxwell, Tricia Caroccio,  Christine Castiglia, Joan Dain, Stacy Dawson, Karen DeRitter, Patricia Dixon, Kerrie McElroy, Tod Simons, Roger Sprague and Hope Mazuroski.

Representing Charles E. Riley were Kathy Carroll, Allison Guido, Terri Cullen-Stacy, Stacy Devendorf, Karen Burke, Patricia Delia, and Diana Proano.

From Fitzhugh Park were Erin Trapasso, Carol Carroll, Valerie Donovan and Christine Haessig while from the Oswego Middle School were Alice Barry and Karen Breen.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Cathy Chamberlain was enthusiastic over the program and joining her were Literacy Director Laura Ryder and principals Mary Volkomer, Julie Burger, Randy Richards, Donna Simmons and Roseanne Bayne.

Beck explained, “Teachers learned how to continue to cultivate the writing workshop in their classrooms and make it an integral part of their literacy program. The benefit to our students is enormous in that through the use of mini-lessons, modeling and guided practice students will be explicitly taught how to write specific genre and also will be nurtured in the writing process.”

Beck concluded, “We are so pleased in knowing that the students in our community will benefit from this initiative and that our classrooms will be producing students who love to write and carry that love with them out into the world.”