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Captain Shreve educators to lead national conversation on writing instruction at annual conference

Four Captain Shreve High School educators are preparing to head to Baltimore on Nov. 21-24 to lead a series of roundtable discussions at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual conference.  


Library media specialist Maureen Barclay and teachers Amy Douglas, Sarah Hamm and Dottie Reeser have been selected to share the foundational research that guided their inquiry and reflective practice as part of Captain Shreve’s work with the National Writing Project (NWP). Team members will highlight collaboration with local NWP branches and school administrators. The session is titled, “Collaboration to Build an Interdisciplinary Writing Community.” 

Attendees will learn strategies to garner administrative and community support in developing an interdisciplinary community of writers.  The team will share opportunities to write for authentic purposes and audiences across content areas. 

“Since I began my career as a teacher, I have benefited from the research, practices, speakers and information provided by NCTE and NWP,” Barclay said. “I am excited to give back to the national conversation and to use this opportunity to continue to improve how we are providing instruction for students.” 

Nearly four years ago, Captain Shreve began working hand-in-hand with NWP to foster authentic writing experiences in the classroom.  Then Barclay had a vision to enhance students’ abilities to write and articulate thoughts. She extensively researched opportunities to enhance student work and visited with Principal Ginger Gustavson on the abilities of NWP to meet Captain Shreve’s needs. NWP offers a network of experts and resources to support educators who seek out research-based practices, including writing workshop models, the use of mentor texts, and using writing as formative assessment.  Their inquiry has evolved into a five-year plan to invest in the writers of our community. 

While the first two years of the team’s work concentrated on writing in English language arts classrooms, the partnership now includes instructors from varied disciplines such as history, statistics, engineering, world languages, journalism, biology and advanced research. Pooling resources from the community and school, the educators in this partnership organize professional development for teachers and foster research-based practices that have directly impacted pedagogy and student achievement on the Captain Shreve campus. Workshops cover research-based strategies for teaching writing, evaluation of best practices, reflection, planning and methods for teaching writers to use the writing process. The results have been nothing short of astounding with Captain Shreve seeing the highest gains in English I and English II of any school in the district and increases in students admitted to selective admission colleges and universities. Additionally, students have earned national honors including two who became gold winners of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  

“When we began this work, we knew this would need to be a long-term change to provide our students with the skills they need to be successful post-secondary,” Gustavson said. “Each year of the work we have seen our students achieve at growing levels. We are proud of the investment we are making to provide our teachers with incredible models of instruction which in turn are helping our students to increase their abilities and be successful in private and public universities as well as in the workforce.”