Creating Respectful Discourse with Writing

  • Elementary
  • Higher Education
  • High School
  • Middle School
Swan Eaton

Do you ever get sweaty palms and anxiety over teaching a subject with which you are not familiar?  I’m sure many have felt this at some time during their careers.  For me, it was writing. As a new teacher, I didn’t know how I would tackle this dilemma.  I reached out to a colleague, Ryan Anderson, a Prescott JR/SR High English teacher.  He introduced me to the National Writing Project’s College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP.)

C3WP has a trifecta of principles that includes professional development, instructional resources, and formative assessment. The step by step lesson plans coupled with high interest topics ensures that students are able to formulate routine, argumentative writing. As this program taught me how to teach writing, it also helped my students find their voices. I was blown away by the confidence my students gained, making them stronger human beings regardless of cultural factors or limited English skills.   

CharRe Burnum, 6th grade Language Arts teacher at Wahluke Jr. High School says, “C3WP has greatly enhanced my ability to teach argumentative writing to ELL learners. From annotating to summarizing to the prewriting stage, students are enjoying the relatable topics and lively discussions they don't even realize they are working.”

First, the program eloquently steps students through the mental process by asking them their opinion on high-interest topics that are relevant to their age.  Second, the program provides presentations and detailed lesson plans with many resources that engage the teacher and student. Third, students engage conversationally with one another and learn to use their voices in a constructive manner while respecting the viewpoints of their peers.  Finally, once the students and teachers have passed through the lesson’s steps, the writing begins - effortlessly. 

Let me remind you that I had zero experience in teaching writing, but my students can now effectively characterize the credibility of sources, present a claim that is nuanced, debatable and defensible, put their own spin on ideas from the text, and push back against the text by challenging it.  Some of my student’s say,

  • “I like how C3WP is getting me ready for college and teaching me that my voice matters.”
  • “I used to think the writing was hard, but I like the, They Say I Say, chart.  It makes writing easy.”
  • “Now it’s easy for me to write claims in writing and science.”

My classroom is enriched academically as a result of using this program.  I didn’t expect my students to apply their new method of thinking and conversing with administrators and the public. I now receive comments on how my students can respectfully converse, in an adult manner - something unusual for a 12-year old.  This new culture created in my classroom allows my students to be confident in all subjects.  In math, students like to discuss difficulties with algorithms or mathematical reasoning.  The practice of critically reading to find evidence and analyze debatable ideas helped in science. Students could maturely discuss sexual and asexual reproduction. 

“The National Writing Project has provided some of the strongest tools I use to teach writing and thinking in my classroom. Thanks to C3WP, my students are better writers and I am a stronger teacher.”  -Jon McClintick, English Teacher, Ellensburg High School.

“In our district, we are using a great curriculum for narrative and informational writing, but our argument writing resources have been lacking, especially for text sets. C3WP are resources with applicable "real world" text sets that are streamlined and easy to follow for teachers AND students. These resources help students think and really formulate a strong claim, with texts to back up their thinking and then really pushes them on their analysis of the texts. I am SO happy with the writing my fourth graders are doing right now!” -Tara L. Affholter, 4th Grade Teacher.


Summer Institute 2019 of the College, Career, and Community Writer’s Program will be held at Central Washington University, 7/29/2019-8/1/2019.


Who should participate?

  • 4-12 teachers looking for dynamic and authentic strategies to teach opinion & argumentative writing.
  • Content area teachers who want to learn more about using writing to increase learning in all subjects.
  • Teachers who want to network with colleagues across the state.

What is learned

  • How to help students annotate text, understand perspectives, and build complex opinions and arguments.
  • How to use research-proven College, Career, Community Writer Program instructional resources.
  • How our classroom instruction can be enriched with deeper thinking and stronger writing skills.

Michelle Jacobson, Ephrata Middle School teacher says, “C3WP has meant the world to me. It has kept me teaching for 24 years. It has given me insight into how to be an instructor and facilitator, not a copy queen. C3WP has given me the confidence to be the teacher that I loved in school. It has connected me to other teachers who are amazing resources and support system. I wish everyone could have a place like this, a place for teachers who want to grow and share. Write On C3WP! Write On!”

I found C3WP’s Instructional Resource Guide to be user-friendly, comprehensive, and time-saving. The professional development has been invaluable to my growth as an educator.  The articles are of high interest and thought-provoking for my students, making writing fun and exciting. I will spend the summer analyzing what I learned and begin to research ways I can interweave these writing and conversation techniques in all subjects.

  • Classroom Culture
  • Writing
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The opinions expressed by the CORElaborate Bloggers, guest bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD), Ready Washington or any employee thereof. PSESD is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Washington State Teacher Leader or Guest Bloggers.