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Developing Responsive Writing Pedagogy Through Collaborative Inquiry

Dr. Sandra Murphy, UC Davis School of Education
Shannon Pella, Doctoral Student, UC Davis School of Education

ABSTRACT
In this CRESS grant funded project, five language arts teachers from geographically, culturally, and linguistically diverse middle schools participated in a collaborative inquiry focused on teaching and learning writing. Their inquiry group structure was loosely based on the Japanese lesson study model for teacher professional development. Participants collaboratively selected topics, designed and observed nine writing lessons, and investigated student-learning outcomes from each lesson. Over a two year period, participating teachers spent over one hundred hours focused on developing multi-modal writing activities for their students in order to engage them in critical thinking for and about writing. Participating teachers’ engagements in the collaborative planning, observation, and debriefing cycles of lesson study promoted generative shifts in their perspectives of their students’ abilities and fostered their development of responsive writing pedagogy. In conclusion, responsive writing pedagogy is a set of values, instructional approaches, and the use of on-going contextualized inquiry that taps into the assets and responds to the needs of a diverse student population. Responsive writing pedagogy seeks to understand and provide scaffolding and support so that all students receive high quality writing instruction.

Findings & Lessons Learned:
Findings from this study suggest that at various points in a teacher’s career, professional development needs vary. This professional development model was responsive to the needs of the participating teachers, many of whom were actively involved in the National Writing Project as teacher consultants. This group of teachers sought an inquiry-based professional learning community structure that they could design, adapt and sustain. This responsive professional development model was integral to the responsive pedagogy that it fostered.

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