The National Writing Project of Acadiana (sometimes referred to as the Acadiana Writing Project) was established by an LEQSF grant of $45,000 in 1989. Its founder was Dr. Ann B. Dobie, Professor of English. Since that time it has been annually reviewed and approved as an affiliate of the National Writing Project, a network of writers and teachers around the world that seeks to improve the teaching of writing at all levels of the educational system, K - University.
The National Writing Project is a university-school partnership that has three major goals: (1) to improve the teaching of writing at all levels, (2) to improve professional development programs for teachers, and (3) to improve the professional standing of teachers. As a site of the NWP, UL Lafayette’s program subscribes to its goals and basic assumptions as stated below:
- Working as partners, universities and schools can articulate and promote effective school reform.
- Teachers are the best teachers of teachers; successful practicing teachers have greater credibility with their colleagues than outside experts.
- Successful teachers of writing can be identified and--while sharing their expertise--be prepared to teach other teachers.
- Summer Institutes should involve teachers from all levels of instruction and all disciplines.
- Writing is as fundamental to learning in science, mathematics, and history as it is to learning in English and the language arts.
- Writing needs constant attention and repetition from the early grades through university.
- As the process of writing can best be understood by engaging in the process, teachers of writing should write.
- Real change in classroom practice does not happen all at once, but rather, over time.
- Effective professional development programs are on-going and systematic, bringing teachers together throughout their careers to examine successful practices and new developments.
- What is known about the teaching of writing comes not only from research but from the practice of those who teach writing.
- The National Writing Project, by promoting no single “right” approach to the teaching of writing, allows a critical examination of a variety of approaches from a variety of sources.
To put those assumptions into action, the NWP of Acadiana engages in a variety of activities involving area teachers, students, as well as the public at large. Each summer it conducts a five-week Summer Writing Institute for teachers in the Acadiana parishes and an Advanced Institute for its graduates (called Teacher Consultants). Throughout the school year it invites them to participate in numerous continuity activities, and other area teachers are provided with staff development workshops led by the Teacher Consultants. In addition, several activities are open to the public.
The Role of the University
Since the inception of the Writing Project at USL the University has supported it by providing space for the Summer Institutes, paying the summer salary of the director, and providing access to equipment (overhead projectors) and books (in Dupre Library). For the past year it has provided office space to house the AWP library, which consists of around 1000 books about writing and the teaching of writing that are used by Summer Fellows during the Writing Institute and by Teacher Consultants year round. AWP equipment, such as tape recorders and a “boom-box” are also stored there. All such books and equipment have been purchased with grants made to the AWP. They are, however, made available to UL Lafayette students in English and education.