by Gerri Marroquin

The University of West Georgia’s Dr. Tami Ogletree, associate professor and area coordinator for language and literacy, has received a $16,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Education to fund a service project that provides professional education and development for K-12 English Language Arts teachers.

Tami Ogletree speaking to a crowdAssisting Ogletree are her two co-directors: Dr. Jennifer Allen, assistant professor in the Department of Literacy and Special Education, and Mary Reid, director of UWG’s Pre-K program. Together they manage the service project, focusing on teacher leadership initiatives to build teacher leaders and partner schools.

“We believe that there is no correct way to teach writing, but there are best practices that you can use, and our purpose is to expose these practices that may be successful for teachers in their classrooms,” Ogletree said.

The service project is modeled after the Cherokee Rose Writing Project (CRWP), whose goal is to bring high-quality professional development programs to teachers in the area. It focuses on two local schools that will meet individually and together to discuss and share new strategies of how to teach writing.   

“We want to create a mass of educators who want to shift the culture of writing so that it focuses more on giving students authentic reasons to write,” Allen said.

The Georgia Department of Education sought out the Cherokee Rose Writing Project to manage the service project, realizing that the goals of both were perfectly aligned and that the writing project is enacting change in how teachers approach the subject in the classroom.

“Writing is one thing that teachers feel unempowered to teach, feeling as if they cannot teach it,” Reid said. “It’s a real bonus for the teachers to gain experience as writers themselves and incorporate that with their students.”

Ogletree and her co-directors have selected two teacher leaders, one from the two local partner schools, who attended CRWP’s invitational summer institute to impact a group of six teachers at their schools. The summer institute is a month-long workshop that allows teachers to strengthen their understanding of writing by becoming better writers themselves.

The service project also creates an opportunity for UWG’s CRWP to advise the Georgia Department of Education with writing policy and creating a new curriculum for the state, as well as to create a system and culture change within the teaching world throughout the country.

“We have seen a big change in the schools, especially in the writing test scores, because of the teachers we have guided,” Ogletree said. “It’s noticeable when a teacher has been trained by the writing project because their students are understanding the process of writing.”

Posted on October 25, 2016