Initiative Overview

The National Writing Project’s (NWP) project, Assignments Matter 2.0, is designed to develop and support 30 teacher leaders (TLs) at two local NWP sites in Birmingham, Alabama and New York, New York to lead 600 peers over two years in improving instruction of writing. NWP TLs engage teachers in using the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) Core Tools to develop writing assignments and to teach in ways that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards-aligned writing assignments will be tested and refined, and contributed to the LDC curriculum library as open educational resources for all teachers to access. At each participating NWP site, four site liaisons oversee the development of a cadre of teacher leaders, who are supported to then design and deliver teacher-to-teacher learning opportunities through school-based professional learning communities (PLCs) focused on incorporating LDC into instructional practices, reviewing writing tasks for CCSS alignment, and looking at student work.

Strategies for Supporting Teacher Leaders to Advance Common Core

Network Support for Teacher Leaders

Site liaisons plan learning events for TLs and participating teachers at each of the two local NWP sites, while supporting the development of their TLs. Initially, TLs participate in local training in the LDC Core Tools and use of lesson analysis protocols at a kick-off meeting led by the site liaisons. TLs are provided with continuous support from site liaisons on leadership skills, LDC materials, and technical help with the LDC Core Tools’ online professional learning platform, so that TLs are able to effectively lead their school-based teacher cohorts through LDC Core Tools’ professional learning experiences.

Teacher Leaders Working with Teachers

Each NWP TL leads teacher-to-teacher learning for a PLC of 10 teachers at their school site. TLs facilitate monthly two-hour PLC sessions focused on building LDC knowledge to develop CCSS-aligned writing assignments. TLs lead peers through professional learning experiences, and each teacher develops at least one LDC-based writing assignment and three mini-tasks to support student learning of evidence-based writing. Teachers upload their assignments to the LDC Core Tools site and reflect on their work. In addition to leading monthly PLCs and guiding the online LDC professional learning experience of their teachers, TLs help site liaisons lead two full-day, face-to-face professional learning events for all participating teachers in that NWP project.

Partnerships with Local Education Agencies

NWP draws on a five-year relationship with LDC in planning and implementing this initiative. NWP plans to work with LDC to collect data and analytics from the LDC Core Tools site related to teacher use and change in instructional practice as exhibited in the uploaded assignments and teacher reflections.

NWP is implementing Assignments Matter 2.0 in two existing Writing Project sites: Red Mountain Writing Project in Birmingham, AL and New York City Writing Project in New York, NY. These Writing Project sites have relationships with high-needs schools, whose teachers will be targeted for this initiative.

General Information

National Writing Project
University of California at Berkeley
2105 Bancroft Way #1042
Berkeley, CA 94720-1042

Tanya Baker, Director, National Programs
(510) 642-8812

2014 – 2015 Initiative of the National Writing Project

Primary Grant Focus

To build teacher capacity in writing instruction and produce high-quality writing tasks to be shared nationally, the National Writing Project (NWP) leverages its knowledge about literacy and its national network of nearly 200 NWP sites. NWP is implementing a blended learning professional development model that includes disseminating support and tools for utilizing the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) framework and other digital LDC tools. NWP provides professional development for 20 site leaders nationwide who, in turn, each train 50 secondary educators at their sites.

Strategies for Supporting Common Core Success

This LDC initiative relies on two tiers of teacher leadership and applies the NWP’s longstanding practice of organizing teachers-teaching-teachers opportunities and facilitating sharing of effective instructional practices among teachers.

  • The NWP has identified a cross-disciplinary, leadership team of six teachers with deep LDC experience. These six teacher leaders have drawn from their own classroom successes with LDC to create the online learning component that is part of the blended learning approach used in this initiative.
  • The leadership team has provided a face-to-face learning event for 20 NWP site leaders representing different sites across the nation. At this learning event, the site leaders learn about the blended learning experience and the online LDC resources— the LDC task bank and LDC task jurying rubric. The learning event focuses on helping teachers utilize these online resources to create high-quality CCSS-aligned writing tasks.
  • Each of the 20 site leaders is responsible for facilitating face-to-face learning events for two cohorts of 25 middle and high school teachers at their site, reaching a total of 1,000 teachers. These blended learning events include: 1) a synchronous, online learning experience led by the national leadership team that introduces the LDC task bank and task jurying rubric, and 2) the live learning experience, where site leaders facilitate teacher practitioner communities in developing LDC tasks and then applying a protocol for refining them. LDC tasks, once vetted as high-quality writing tasks by the cross-disciplinary leadership team, are shared widely to teachers through the online searchable task bank.