Note: This is re-posted from Guitarsophist.com.
I gave the speech below at the opening of our 2013 Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC) Professional Learning Certification, where we rolled out the second edition of our curriculum for 250 secondary and post-secondary teachers. I would say that this was the most successful event in the history of ERWC. It was beyond our expectations in every way. A few observations:
- The feeling of excitement and respect was palpable in every room, from the huge plenary to the smallest breakout.
- I didn’t hear a negative or discouraging word from a single participant, even when I was telling people in my workshop to de-emphasize figurative language and stop trying to teach what a work “means.”
- More than 70 people went to the breakout on “Theoretical Foundations.” Most teachers are more interested in what to do on Monday morning than in theory, so this was a real transformation.
- A former grad student of mine from 10 years ago came up and said, “You probably have no idea how much ERWC has changed teaching in California, even among teachers who are not teaching the course.”
- In my Professional Learning breakout session I asked each of the 29 people in attendance to say who they were, where they were from, and one thing they liked or disliked about the event or the new materials. They quickly named 29 different and very specific things things that they liked about the new ERWC. This showed both that they liked what they were hearing and that they were paying very close attention to the information they were getting.
The new materials are based on a revised and re-organized Assignment Template that introduces the writing tasks much earlier in the process. This template has been aligned with Common Core State Standards. In addition
- Ten of the original modules have been updated with new readings and revised;
- Three new modules have been developed: “What’s Next?” (about college and career planning), 1984, and Brave New World;
- New appendices and ancillary materials have been developed including articles on formative assessment and teaching for transfer and engagement;
- Contextual grammar activities have been expanded to include each of the course modules in grade 12;
- Resources for providing professional learning sessions including a planning template, an activity library, learning outcomes and principles, and sample agendas have been created;
- New modules have been created for grades 7-11.
Here is the speech: Speech May 17, 2013