Penn GSE Research to Practice
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DR. DIANE WAFF is Director of the Philadelphia Writing Project and a practice professor in the Department of Reading/Writing/Literacy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
Learn more about PhilWP

Inspiring Students to Write

The Philadelphia Writing project (PhilWP), a renowned local site of the National Writing Project, teaches writing and literacy as critical tools for learning. Penn GSE professor Dianne Waff works with teachers to move them and their students toward writing-intensive lives that connect learning, high student achievement, and personal growth.
The following tips come from experienced PhilWP Teacher Consultants (TCs), who offer ideas to encourage students to write and develop a love for words and creative expression.

[1] Ask students to tell a story to a specific audience. Encourage students to write stories about things they know—about their lives or their neighborhood—for a well-defined audience that’s appropriate to the type of writing your students are doing in your class.
     —Meenoo Rami, PhilWP TC, Educator at Science Leadership Academy, @meenoorami

[2] Write with your students. When we share our own writing, we also demonstrate that we are taking our students’ work seriously. Read and respond to their work thoughtfully, and with all the gentleness we would want our own writing to receive.
     —Helen Anderson, PhilWP TC, UPenn Reading/Writing/Literacy Doctoral Student

[3] Draw on a variety of media. Inspiration can come in the form of a question, writing excerpt, film clip, piece of art, book cover, three-dimensional object, science lab, play, daily ritual, or a combination of all of the above. Share the item with students and ask them to write about it. 
     —Shira Cohen, PhilWP TC, Educator at Wissahickon Charter School

[4] Engage with the neighborhood to inspire writing.  Take community walks with your students. Stop 2-3 times on your walk, asking students to use their five senses to describe their neighborhood in their  notebooks.  Back in the classroom, invite students to share their writing, both with their peers and through digitaldigital publishing.
     —Annie Huynh, PhilWP TC, Educator at Folk-Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School, @TchrAnnie

[5] Consider multiple perspectives. When exploring a historical event, have students read primary source documents from multiple perspectives, such as those written by women and people of color. Hang sheets of paper throughout the room, labeling each sheet for one source document. After the students have read the documents, ask them to move throughout the room and respond to each document (and each other!) in writing on the sheets.
     —Bethany Silva, PhilWP Research Assistant, Project Write Instructor, Penn GSE Reading/Writing/Literacy Doctoral Student

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