(Story and photos by Chandra Vanek)
This August, five teachers from the Nebraska Writing Project were chosen to score papers at the 2011 National Evaluation Scoring Conference in Chicago, Illinois: Liz Boyle from Walnut Middle School in Grand Island, Paula Anderson from Louisville Middle School, Tyler Barna from Ralston Middle School, Sarah Schoenrock from Westside Middle School in Omaha, and myself from Park Middle School in Lincoln.
The primary purpose of the scoring conference was to use the NWP's Analytic Writing Continuum continue the ongoing process of analyzing on-demand student writing to determine the National Writing Project's impact on teacher effectiveness and student achievement in writing. The data collected from scoring conferences over the last five years has definitively shown that the National Writing Project improves teachers' effectiveness when teaching writing in the classroom. More information on this study can be found at the National Writing Project's Website.
In all, more than one hundred teacher consultants from across the nation decimated the coffee supplies of the Chicago Doubletree hotel through the training sessions and scoring of thousands of student essays on everything from why schools should have new laptops to the magnificence of Taylor Lautner's abdominal muscles.
(Above: Liz Doyle and her tablemates declare themselves to be Chicago's #1 Scorers.)
The conference was also an opportunity to make connections with other middle school teachers and teachers of the Writing Project from around the country. We especially made some great connections with fellow teachers from Alabama.
(Above) Nebraska participants eating at Gino's Eastwith our friends from Alabama after a long day of training and scoring.
(Above) We four Nebraska girls (Chandra Vanek, Paula Anderson, Sarah Schoenrock, and Liz Boyle) had just finished riding the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier with Jordan Barkley from Jackson State University in Alabama.
In the end, I left Chicago having made some wonderful connections with teachers across the nation whose knowledge and experiences inspired me and reinforced the importance of what I am doing in the classroom, grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something important.
For further information about the results from these studies and the results from the 2006-2009 studies, you can visit the National Writing Project's website.