Diary of Writing for Social Change Research Project

June 26, 2007

In November 2006 at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, I started on a great adventure. I have always been interested in teachers as researchers. I went to several seminars on conducting research in classrooms and forming inquiry groups in local projects. Armed with enthusiasm and just enough information to be dangerous, I wrote a grant to support a study group of teachers who would conduct action research projects in their classrooms dealing particularly with writing for social change. Our local site applied for three mini-grants, and our director said our chances were slim if we received all three grants. On good days, I hoped we would receive the grant I wrote and then on those dark days littered with self doubt, I prayed that we would not receive it. I had a vague plan that I wrote in the grant but no real direction. Once we received the news that we received all three grants, I felt satisfaction that my vague plan had turned into a concrete reality, yet my self-doubt clouded my vision.

In June 2007, I took the first initial step in the grant. I had planned to do this during our spring conference, but I had not laid the ground work for this step, so I waited until the beginning of our Upstate Writing Project Summer Institute. Since the groups would be based on the National Writing Project book, Writing for Social Change, and we were also looking for a text to raise the social consciousness of our project, I decided to suggest this as one of our texts. The other staff readily agreed. Our summer scholars conducted small group discussions on the book, and then we had each group report back. The teachers had deep insight into the text and made meaningful comments during our discussion. After the discussion ended, I explained the grant I had written and asked them to consider conducting this research project of writing for social change in their classrooms. I resisted my strong urge to walk around and try to pin down the commitment of the participants.

The last week of our institute, I handed out a checklist of future opportunities for our summer scholars. On that list, I included the participation in the research grant. Out of fifteen participants, five signed up that they would be interested. We had a good representation of elementary and middle school teachers. I teach in high school, so now we have each level represented. In the next few weeks, I will send out a flyer to all teacher consultants explaining this project. I hope to have a meeting with all interested after our Back to School Special conference on August 25, 2007. Our 2007 summer scholars are hosting this conference, so they will all be there. Many of our participants have quite a drive, so I would like to meet at a convenient time. Since everyone will already be at the Unversity Center, this seems to be a perfect time. Hopefully other teacher consultants from earlier years will want to be involved in this study group; and if we meet during the Back to School Special, this will also bring consultants from earlier years to the conference.


Anonymous said...

Mrs. Turner, You are a sensational writer. I love how you end your lines. It makes your works flow as smoothly as a river in North Carolina. You are the most amazing teacher ever. When I grow up I want to be just like you. You're my hero!!!! AHHH!!!

♥----Betty Lou

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May said...

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