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The Inspired Writer Blog
By Suzanne Klein on 7/18/2014 1:15 PM
By Emil Carafa (pictured on the left of the Cat in the Hat), Principal of Washington Elementary School, past President of the New Jersey Principals Association, and Educator's Leader Cadre Representative of New Jersey for PARCC National Conference

One of the most difficult challenges I have had in my career was to instill a culture of writing at my school. It’s not that we weren’t doing writing at our school, but the question was, “Were we doing the writing effectively across the grades to make our children better writers?” This has been challenge that needed to be met head on during the past years. My quest was to find a writing program where my school could create a culture of writing and utilize this program to improve writing and writing scores across the grade levels.

Collaboration is the key to any successful program or initiative that needs to be implemented in a school. To change the perception of writing in our school, I met with a committee of teachers to discuss writing and what we were looking for. We had been utilizing a grammar and writing program that was part of our reading series, but it wasn’t meeting our needs. 
                                                                                                       
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By Suzanne Klein on 6/12/2014 1:44 PM

By Kresta Byington, Principal of Chauncey Davis Elementary School

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It’s a rainy, breezy day as I walk through the quiet halls of Chauncey Davis Elementary, nestled in a sleepy town along the Willapa River in Washington. I hear the sound of the rain pattering on the building, and the mossy trees are glistening outside, leaning heavily from the rain, as I begin my walkthroughs for the day. I step inside one of my fourth grade classrooms and witness an encouraging sight. The students are deep in concentration. The only sound is the collective hum of their pencils scribbling and scratching as they write their words on the paper.

Is this something you experience in your walkthroughs? Or, has writing been a struggle in your school? I know it used to be a real challenge in my building, where I’ve been the principal for the past ten years. Prior to being a building leader, I was a teacher in the district for nine years. As principal, I noticed less writing displayed in classrooms, and as a parent of two students in my school, I saw less writing coming home.  Last spring, my concerns were confirmed when only 40% of my fourth grade students met standard on the state writing test. This was unacceptable to me and something needed to be done. We just weren’t getting the quality and quantity we knew we could from having an effective writing community. I had to first discover the problems my teachers were facing when it came to writing instruction.

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