Laramie teachers are invited to hone and improve their writing skills and possibly their teaching skills Friday during a Wyoming Writing Project program.
The program is aimed to help Wyoming K-12 teachers improve their personal writing skills and take those new techniques back to the classroom.
Ultimately, Wyoming students can end up with stronger writing and literacy abilities.
Only in its second year, the program has already made a difference for many Wyoming teachers, Co-director Amy Spiker said.
“We’ve had a great summer,” she said. “We worked with over 20 teachers in Sheridan and over 10 in Thayne. We’re a local site of the National Writing Project, and our goal is to work with teachers to improve their own writing. Hopefully, they can integrate the things they’ve learned her into the classroom.”
The project has stopped in two locations — Sheridan and Thayne — and is ready to help Laramie teachers during a professional development day beginning at 9 a.m. Friday
“This (professional development) is unique in that it is a learn-and-do type of a (professional development) instead of the traditional sit-and-get,” Co-Director Tia Frahm said. “They’re going to three different workshops where they are practicing the craft of writing that they can do in the classroom, but then we are also coming together as writers in a whole group.”
While previously active in Wyoming, the program disappeared until its resurgence two years ago when Frahm arrived at UW.
“I went through the program in Missouri when I was teaching elementary and middle school English,” she said. “It really changed my teaching and how I approach the classroom. It fueled my fire when I came out to Wyoming.”
Sara Pommarane, a fourth-grade teacher from Albany County School District No. 1, is one of four teachers instructing the workshops along with Frahm and Spiker.
“It’s very two-fold,” she said. “Part of it is growing myself but also having learned some practical applications I can bring back and use the second day of school.”
Personal grow is just as important as new teaching skills, Spiker said.
“We believe teachers have to be confident in their own writing,” she said. “If they aren’t strong, they might avoid teaching it.”
During her first time in the Missouri Writing Program, Frahm said such confidence translated directly to her classroom.
“Once I saw myself as a writer, it was no longer intimidating to teach,” she said. “When you have 30 different writing personalities in the classroom — once you see yourself as a writer, it’s just easier and opens a lot of doors.”
The afternoon is spent in small groups with both teachers and community members interested in improving their own skills or assisting others in writing styles and methods.
“With small groups, they travel to a minimum of three places and just write,” Frahm said. “It’s interesting because you don’t come with knowledge of what you’re going to write about.”
The program is funded partially by the National Writing Project and partially by the UW Literacy Research Center and Clinic. Spiker expects the program to continue into the future.
“We’re excited about the success we’ve had and want to continue to offer through the coming summers,” she said.
While it is suggested to sign up for the program at www.wyomingwritingproject.wordpress.com, Frahm said teachers can show up to the event 9 a.m. on the second floor of the UW Education Annex.
The public can take part in the second portion of the day by meeting at 1 p.m. in the same location.
IF YOU GO ...
What: Wyoming Writing Project
When: 9 a.m. Friday
Where: Second floor of the University of Wyoming Education Annex
How much: free
More info: www.wyomingwritingproject.wordpress.com