NEW ALBANY, Ind. (June 25, 2014) —The IU Southeast Writing Project (IUSWP), a branch of the National Writing Project, the oldest sustained professional development for teachers in the United States, brought Author Jeff Anderson to campus for Author Day 2014.
Hailed as one of the top 10 literacy experts in the United States, getting Anderson to speak on campus was very exciting for Dr. Kevin Sue Bailey, IUSWP program director and professor and coordinator of Secondary Education in the School of Education.
“We waited three years to get on his calendar,” Bailey said. “We were especially excited to have him speak because of his comprehensive approach to literacy.”
Anderson, a master of integrating grammar techniques into classrooms, and author of 10 Things Every Author Needs to Know, spoke passionately about writing techniques, incorporating modern-day literature and pop culture references into his lecture to convey literary approaches, and story structure and writing techniques that educators in attendance could take back to the classroom.
“We’re looking for fresh ways to put things together,” Anderson said. “The purpose of the session is not to directly copy the work of others. It’s about finding ways to incorporate [these techniques] into your classroom.”
In addition to lecture, Anderson engaged attendees with hands-on activities, getting them involved in the learning process in simple, yet interesting ways. From brainstorming, to list making, he incorporated group work, encouraging educators to play off each other’s knowledge and experience, expanding their points of view.
His humor and animated way of speaking kept the would-be-boring lecture entertaining, captivating the audience and compelling them to be attentive to his teachings—even putting a photo of his dog on screen and teaching in his best interpretation of the dog’s “voice.”
Author Day comes on the heels of the IUSWP Summer Institute (SI), a two and a half week continuing education class that carries graduate credit for educators in attendance.
“We operate under the premise that you will be a better teacher if you are a writer yourself,” Bailey said.
The SI has three primary components that attendees address: personal writing skills, a demonstration classroom lesson, and research on an issue important to them. The demonstration lessons are shared among all in attendance, so each teacher leaves with about 20 lessons to implement in their classroom this fall.
But improved writing skills and graduate credit are not all participants gain from attending IUSWP programs. They are also able to connect with other local educators, networking and sharing ideas and strategies.
“They form contacts and relationships that last long after their time with us,” Bailey said.
In addition to members of IUSWP, graduates of the SI and the general public, Author Day is open to IU Southeast undergraduates in the Secondary Language Arts program. These students not only attend the session, but also give poster presentations.
“The students really benefit from exposure to experienced teachers and a national author like Jeff Anderson,” Bailey said.
For more information about the IU Southeast Writing Project, or any of its programs, click here.