Rachel Wood, a Windsor Middle School eighth-grade social studies teacher, was chosen to be part of the Colorado State University Writing Project, as well as being a part of the writing project’s grant team that traveled around the country — Chicago, November 2011; San Francisco, January 2012; Denver, July 2012 — learning and implementing strategies regarding literacy in the classroom.
Wood, 29, a 2005 CSU graduate who has been teaching at WMS for seven years, explained to Windsor Now how valuable her experience has been being involved in the CSU Writing Project.
Wood said a “Just In Time” conference will be held Sept. 15 at the Hilton Hotel in Fort Collins to help share with other area teachers what the team learned.
WINDSOR NOW!: Could you elaborate on the Colorado State University Writing Project and how it has not only been a benefit to you, but also how it has helped your students in Windsor?
WOOD: The Colorado State University Writing Project has been a great benefit to me because I know how important literacy is in the classroom, no matter what subject I may teach. The members of CSUWP have provided me with many research-based strategies and ideas that have helped me to implement writing in my own classroom over the years.
WINDSOR NOW!: What new ways or methods are you using with your students because of the CSUWP?
WOOD: I have implemented the new Common Core Literacy Standards in my curriculum due to my work with this grant. We are reading many different primary sources to learn about history as a historian would. This requires analysis and critical thinking that helps students develop into better thinkers.
WINDSOR NOW!: Can you talk about your experiences traveling to Chicago, San Francisco and Denver and working with other teachers from around the country?
WOOD: Meeting with teachers from around the country was very invigorating. I was able to learn a lot from them about how they have successfully implemented writing in their classrooms. It was great to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many talented people.
WINDSOR NOW!: How large is the grant?
WOOD: I am not sure of the dollar amount for the grant as it was originally given to the National Writing Project by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Literacy Design Collaborative. The CSU Writing Project then applied to be a part of the work they were doing and were selected along with writing projects from New York and Kentucky.
WINDSOR NOW!: How do you see your efforts as a way to improve literacy in the classroom?
WOOD: I believe that the work I have done through this grant has helped me to better understand how literacy can be effectively integrated into the classroom. Now that I have seen how beneficial it is to students to build units with a focus on literacy, I am looking forward to sharing this information with others and continuing to build a literacy focus in my classroom.
WINDSOR NOW!: How important is it to integrate literacy in a social studies class?
WOOD: At first as a social studies teacher, I didn’t really see myself as a literacy teacher, but the more I got into it, we’re reading primary sources, we’re analyzing what people are saying and those literacy skills are really important for historians, which hopefully we’re training our students to be. I started looking for ways that I could help them to decipher the information a little bit better for history and write more like a historian. That practice and that information I got from the writing project was really helpful to help me make that jump.