July 25, 2011

Connections to Area High Schools

One component contained in our Title V writing grant is to make connections with the area high schools that send students to the college and with other New Jersey college writing programs. The high school connection was a focus for us in year 3 (2010).

“Connections,” as we have branded that particular effort, involves collaborating with area schools to share the best practices in teaching writing across disciplines. Our website for the Connections program is at pccc.libguides.com/connection

These connections to other schools could also help PCCC increase general student success by providing coordination prior to and after their PCCC experiences.

Two sessions for high school teachers were held during the summer of 2010 at the Writing Center on the Paterson campus. Alexandra Della Fera coordinated contacting area high schools with a focus on those schools that participate in the PCCC dual enrollment program. Teachers needed to complete an application with information about their current use of writing and how they hoped to expand their use of writing.

Attendees received a stipend of $500 for attendance at the two days and completion of the activities and received professional development hours for their participation.

Though the invitations went to teachers in all disciplines, the majority of applicants were English teachers. In session two, we targeted other disciplines as much as possible and the participants included teachers of social studies, Spanish, and business.

We discussed strategies to address the topics applicants were most interested in and shared approaches and tools that the participants have found effective. The “big ideas” for the two days were the topics we use with our own WI faculty: teachers as writers, the writing process, using critical thinking and information literacy in writing, writing to learn and learning to write, and using technology in the writing process.

Some of the topics on the schedule were: discussing their schools and student populations, a discussion of the results of some pre-seminar questions we asked them to write about, giving feedback to writers, using Wikipedia, using writing prompts, online Microsoft resources, useful grammar web sites, rubrics, holistic scoring, portfolios & reflection, using podcasts, and critical thinking.

The most interesting and longest sessions were devoted to having the teachers share their own “best writing lesson.” These lessons are being archived along with our other resources online.

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