November 17, 2009

Making Our High School Connections

A component of PCCC's Writing Initiative five-year grant is to make connections with the area high schools that send students to the college during year three.

The Writing Connection involves collaborating with area schools to share the best practices in teaching writing across disciplines.

During Year 3, we have now added Professor Alexandra Della Fera as our mentor to work with high school teachers in our High School Connections. Alex was the clear choice not only because of her background in writing, but because she is already connected to area high schools by her work with the PCCC Dual Enrollment program.

In addition to her teaching in the English Department, she coordinates the English Composition teachers at county high schools who are teaching PCCC's college-level Composition I course in the high schools.

Professor Della Fera will be working with the Initiative team to invite teachers in all disciplines to apply for our Summer 2010 seminar.

How do high school teachers capture the attention of a visual, online, Net Generation of students in a time of fragmented instruction, high-stakes testing and the social and economic tensions?

Research shows that integration of critical thinking and writing skills into all classrooms helps student performance and understanding of the discipline being taught. The Initiative has created Faculty Institutes for PCCC faculty that offer hands-on, collaborative activities designed to strengthen the integration of critical thinking and writing skills in general educations courses. Using those Institutes as a model, participating teachers will work with classroom action-research activities and strategies for gaining immediate feedback on student learning.

Sessions for the two day event will be designed and facilitated by Professor Della Fera, Elizabeth Nesius (Coordinator of the Writing Center) and Ken Ronkowitz (Director of the Writing Initiative).

At least one summer session will be held at the Writing Center on the Paterson campus. Attendees will receive a stipend of $500 for attendance at the two days and completion of the activities, and also receive NJ professional development hours for their participation.

In year 4 of the grant, we plan to connect with the 4-year colleges where our students often matriculate after completing their Associate degrees.

For more information on our high school and college Connections program, see our site at