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Rutgers Institute Helps Teachers Incorporate Writing in Curriculum

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Educators across the state of New Jersey can now access training and ongoing support in implementing the newly developed Common Core State Standards through The Writing Program Institute (WPI), a project of the nationally recognized Rutgers Writing Program.

Drawing on the experience of the Rutgers Writing Program, which provides instruction to more than 11,000 undergraduates annually, WPI faculty have developed a full slate of modules designed to assist high school and middle school teachers in incorporating the non-fiction based analytical writing required by the new standards. Topics offered include Reading Non-Fiction Prose, Creating Expository Assignments, Grading and Commenting, Teaching with Technology, and Developing Classroom Practices.

"One of the problems in education is that teachers, departments and schools tend to operate in isolation with policy changes coming down from on high," said Dr. Kurt Spellmeyer, director of the Rutgers Writing Program. "We wanted to create a place where teachers across New Jersey could meet for conversations about the Core, and develop strategies that would reflect their own values as professionals."

Educators gain entry to a network of teachers statewide who have already participated in WPI programming, and also gain access to assignments, texts and other materials to enhance classroom practice.

In addition, the WPI holds a summer institute for teachers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick that provides intensive training over two days through interactive workshops.

“It’s really stimulating and exciting to feel that you can shape education in New Jersey, and teachers who have participated in our program feel that they can really make a difference,” said Spellmeyer. “We have already started to create a statewide community of teachers, and we have had teachers come back again and again,” he added.

The Common Core State Standards were adopted in New Jersey along with 45 other states and the District of Columbia as part of a national effort to provide a clear framework for what students must learn in order to be prepared for career and college demands. The standards emphasize close and critical reading and thoughtful engagement with high quality, concept-rich texts to build knowledge and a broad worldview, according to the introduction to the Common Core State Standards published in June 2010.

WPI programming is geared not only to language arts instructors, but also to educators teaching reading and writing across the curriculum including history/social studies, science and technical subjects.

WPI trainers are all full-time Rutgers Writing Program directors, and are available for on-site training and customized consultation.

For more information about the Writing Program Institute, contact Alessandra Sperling, assistant coordinator, at (848) 932-5787, or via email at


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