The University of North Dakota is helping teachers share and discover ways to effectively teach writing to their students through the Red River Valley Writing Project (RRVWP).
RRVWP was founded in 1999 at UND by Dan and Judy Sheridan with the goal of improving the teaching and use of writing across all grade levels and subjects.
Director Kim Donehower, associate professor in the UND English Department, spearheads the project from UND in Grand Forks. RRVWP offers writing and book discussions and mentoring and support groups along with summer institutes and workshops for up to 20 teachers.
The teachers who participate in the program are given the opportunity to learn from each other and improve their own writing skills by sharing their own unique style of writing instruction.
“There are many good ways to teach writing, and there are many bad ways to teach writing,” Donehower said. “Demonstrations allow other teachers to gather information and share ideas on which practices work well with local students.”
“The RRVWP was the best professional development in my 30 plus years of teaching! I wish every teacher would do this,” said Glori Bradshaw, a retired first grade teacher from Grafton, N.D., who participated in several summer institutes.
“The RRVWP gave me so many opportunities,” Bradshaw said, “I attended and presented at national conventions. I attended a writing retreat in Santa Fe (N.M.) which resulted in publishing of my writing. I collaborated online with teachers from all over the US to write a chapter of a book. I started a book study in my own school, and I achieved National Board Certification.”
“None of this would have been possible without the Red River Valley Writing Project,” she said.
National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential. It recognizes effective and accomplished teachers who have met the high standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do.
The RRVWP is part of the National Writing Project, a network of nearly 200 sites across the country. These sites work with school districts to offer professional development programs for educators.
New sites are added every year. All sites are co-directed by faculty from local universities and from k -12 schools.
The RRVWP is based at the University of North Dakota, in collaboration with North Dakota State University.
Kim Donehower, associate professor
Department of English
Leigh Kelly, student writer