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But some 15 years later, Stowell remains dedicated to helping K educators throughout the community improve the teaching and learning of writing.
The San Marcos Writing Project is one of about sites of the National Writing Project, a professional development network of teachers aiming to improve student-writing achievement. Stowell, who recently finished her 24th year as a professor of literacy at Cal State San Marcos, was familiar with the National Writing Project from participating in one when she was a teacher in Ohio.
And it has been a passion of hers ever since. There are workshops throughout the year and a variety of Young Writers camps for students during the summer. Each National Writing Project site also has a teacher serve as a co-director, a role Nancy Pace-Skinner has filled here for many years. San Marcos Writing Project Teachers attend the summer institute from 8: Monday through Thursday for five weeks.
The mornings include demonstrations, workshops and guest speakers. The afternoons are typically reserved for writing.
Participants are able to use their own writing as models and have experiences similar to what they ask of their students. They also publish an anthology of their writing from the institute.
You work at it. And they always do. First grade teachers bring their picture books and talk about how they use them in their class.
Twelfth-grade teachers see ways they can apply it. They all learn from each other. The hope, Stowell said, is that with these new standards comes a shift away from formulaic writing that may prepare students to write in on-demand situations but not necessarily prepare them to write in college.
One of the challenges of the writing project is in funding. Contributions from the National Writing Project have decreased and Stowell spends significant time applying for grants.
Some National Writing Project sites have even started hosting an institute every other summer rather than annually in an effort to reduce funding needs.
One of the goals of the institute is to help teachers develop leadership skills and workshops and then being able to serve as a model for good writing practices.
Pace-Skinner noted the dedication required to devote five weeks during the summer to professional development, which means the institute typically attracts highly motivated participants.
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Arkansas teachers who instruct kindergarten through high school students are invited to learn innovative approaches to the writing process and improve their teaching practices during a summer institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Awesome Library organizes 37, carefully reviewed resources, including the top 5 percent for K teachers, students, parents, and librarians.