The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Celebrating Teachers as Writers

June 27, 2018

It is an article of faith the the National Writing Project that "teachers who write are better teachers of writing." That's one reason why all WMWP programs begin with "writing into the day" and include many other opportunities for writing. As another school year comes to an end, we take this opportunity to celebrate some special teacher-writers who have shared their ideas with the larger community in the WMWP's monthly "Chalk Talk" column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, edited by Outreach Co-Director Kevin Hodgson.

Take a minute to browse through the quotations from the past year's Chalk Talk articles below, and follow the links to read one or two. These are inspiring stories by thoughtful, dedicated teacher-leaders.

And please consider joining the chorus of WMWP's Chalk Talk voices! Kevin is always on the lookout for new writers, especially those who live or teach in the Gazette's publication area. If you have an idea for an article or just want to learn more, contact Kevin at

Kevin Hodgson (June 2018)Read his article, "Of Archers, Actors and Artists."​

"Our shared vision as educators to provide for experiential learning, however, allows us a certain balance. Yes, we read and write with our students. We tackle math problems. We explore the fields of science and map out the worlds of social studies. We push our students hard, and we set high expectations. And we provide doors for alternative experiences that will enrich their lives."

erin feldman (May 2018)Read her article, "Critiquing Prose Leads Teens to Connect."

"Maybe by opening our hearts to fill a page, and by opening our hearts to respond to what others fill their pages with, we will remember that we are much more alike than we thought (despite how isolated or invisible many of us feel in our lives). Maybe we will learn that the concrete activity of reading and responding to one another’s written words leads us to unexpected insights about ourselves."

Leslie Skantz-Hodgson (April 2018)  Read her article, "The Future of Civic Engagement."

"Several bills have been filed in the Massachusetts legislature to shore up civics and social studies education in the public schools. The same is happening in about a quarter of the other states. Some of those states are looking at proposed legislation that aims to have students pass the same citizenship tests as those seeking naturalization."

Alicia Lopez (March 2018): Read her article, "My ‘Saudade’ as Strong as Ever."

"I love this word, saudade, and feel like in my soul, I get it. I understand that longing for something, that nostalgia for something that maybe never happened or something you didn’t experience. ... Millions of Puerto Ricans share a nostalgia for Puerto Rico, and this was evident more than ever after Hurricane Maria hit last September. Puerto Ricans all over came together to support their beloved island. The feelings of saudade were stronger than ever."

Kevin Hodgson (February 2018): Read his article, "The Games They Make."

"Our assistant principal wanders in on a two-hour delay day, to find my sixth-graders on the laptops in my writing classroom. ... It’s not that they are just playing games,” I say, and then quickly explain how we are nearing the end of a unit on narrative writing and video game design, in which students designed and published video games with a Hero’s Journey story arc, and how the students he sees are in the act of peer reviewing and offering feedback to classmates’ games."

Courtney Hagar (January 2018): Read her article, "Building Bridges to Out Students."

"[The Culturally Responsive Educator program] helped me to better understand and appreciate my students’ culture and background and allowed me to use that insight as an advantage in my classroom. What others see as an obstacle, I see as a capital in my students. Many of my students can speak two languages, have strong extended family and community ties, and have an excellent ability to navigate and network through various social institutions that have been historically racially hostile."

Michael Silverstone (December 2017): Read his article, "'Row, Row, Row your Boat': Learning and Teaching in the Round."​

"Music can be a model of what it feels like when the voice within joins skillfully with the community. It promotes a sense of well-being. Because it is rhythmic and communal, it creates a shared framework that individuals can feel aware of while also maintaining an awareness of their own spirit. They can feel the support and reassuring guidance of being part of some intelligent endeavor that is larger than the self."

Molly Watkins (November 2017): Read her article, "The Power of Picture Books."

"I am an English as a second language teacher, and my primary goal is to help students develop expressive language, both oral and written. I try to choose books that prompt some kids to say: “Me, too.” Others might recognize a classmate from a group that has been underrepresented in children’s literature."

Heather Hay (October 2017): Read her article, "Crafting a Written Argument."​

"Our [College, Career, and Community Writers] group dissected, discussed, and repurposed many of the mini-units available on the new C3WP website. These teaching units can be brief (two days) or extensive (two weeks) depending on the skills of the students and the assessments, which revolve around answering essential questions, annotating readings, or writing various forms of text, including public writing like letters to the editor in local newspapers.

Kevin Hodgson (September 2017): Read his article, "Sparking a Love of Independent Reading."

"I wonder if I am doing enough, though, to nurture a love of reading. Not just for today, in my sixth-grade classroom, but for tomorrow. For the days ahead. For their lives. All research and data show that independently well-read students do better in most educational environments and content-area classrooms like science and math."