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VI Writing Project Joins the Nation in Teaching Writing

The Virgin Islands Writing Project (VIWP), a partnership between the National Writing Project (NWP), the Virgin Islands Department of Education, and the University of the Virgin Islands, will conduct its seventh annual Summer Institute from June 22 to July 17, on UVI's St. Croix campus. Fourteen public school teachers from throughout the territory will participate in the Summer Institute, and have begun working with their coaches preparing projects assigned during a pre-institute retreat.

The projects include a 90-minute demonstration on a best practice—something implemented in the classroom, which has worked very well in teaching writing—or an inquiry demonstration, which should include research on teaching practice. The demonstrations should include the theoretical framework and references, and should engage the group in actual exercises that the students completed in class. After the demonstrations, the group will provide feedback. Each teacher is also preparing a "passion piece," which will be read on the first day of the Summer Institute. The "passion piece" requires participants to write, in any genre, about what they consider most rewarding or most troubling in their profession.

This year's institute will focus on "Teaching the New Writing," which involves the use of technology to teach writing. After the Institute, the 14 teachers and their coaches will be more current in literacy research, will have been exposed to a variety of ways of teaching writing, and will be better equipped to use technology in the classroom, said VIWP Director Dr. Valerie Combie. At the end of the institute the teachers will be ready to conduct professional development in the schools.

The VIWP has trained approximately 97 teachers in both districts during the past six years. The trained teachers, who are called teacher consultants (TCs), are able to conduct professional development in writing in any school in the territory. This year TCs conducted professional development in all elementary and junior high schools on St. Croix. Professional development was also conducted for ninth grade teachers on St. Croix.

More than 3,000 teachers across the country learn new strategies to improve their students' writing skills, study the latest research and learn effective classroom practices at more than 200 National Writing Project sites on college campuses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. National research studies confirm significant gains in writing performance among students whose teachers participate in NWP programs.

For more information contact VIWP Director Valerie Combie at 692-4126.