The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Professional Development & Consulting

The National Writing Project (NWP) approach to improving teaching is a research-based professional development model and consulting based on a set of core principles and practices focused on improving student achievement in all content areas, grades Pre-K through 16. The Western Massachusetts Writing Project, NWP's local writing project serving Western Massachusetts schools and districts, offers a rich array of programs in a variety of formats.

To develop a customized professional development or consulting plan, please contact Professional Development Coordinator Jane Baer-Leighton at 413-545-5466 or

WMWP is a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Approved Professional Development Provider (#2015U0005).

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Current Offerings

Professional development program brochure

WMWP works directly with administrators to design professional development and consulting programs to meet the specific needs and demands of schools and districts. Download our professional development brochure.

Read an overview of WMWP's two-part course Reaching and Teaching All Learners: Supporting ELLs & Students with Diverse Learning Styles, which fulfills the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's recertification requirements (15 PDPs on working with ELLs and 15 PDPs on working with diverse learners).

Read a description of WMWP's new Science Literacy / Literacy in Science course, which will integrate analysis of the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core literacy standards with curriculum development and leadership strategies.

WMWP also offers three approved DSAC professional development courses, all of which are relevant to teachers across the disciplines. To read fact sheets for these courses, click on the links below.

Formats and Sample Topics

School Professional Development Days

  • Close Reading in the Content-Areas
  • Writing Arguments in the Content-Areas
  • Effective Writing Workshops
  • Integrating Technology into the Classroom
  • Learning to Write, Writing to Learn

Early Release or Late Start Days

  • Unpacking the Common Core State Standards
  • Creating Authentic Assessments
  • Informational and Reflective Writing
  • Story-telling Magic: The Power of Words

After-School or Full-Day Workshop Series (15 hours)

  • Professional Writing
  • Library of Congress: Using Primary Sources
  • Reading and Writing in the Content-Areas
  • Curriculum Design Trainings: Using Understanding by Design
  • Teaching Diverse Learners (SPED)
  • Promoting Academic Language (ELL)
  • Critical Literacy Skills in Science and Technology/Engineering (STE)
  • Horizontal and Vertical Curriculum Alignment
  • Portfolio Assessment

Graduate Courses, including Summer Institutes (35-45 hours)

  • Writing and the Teaching of Writing
  • Reaching and Teaching All Learners: Recertification (ELL and SPED)
  • Teaching Informative and Persuasive Writing (DSAC-approved)
  • Reading and Teaching Literary Nonfiction and Informational Texts (DSAC-approved)
  • Principles and Practices of Effective Content-Area Literacy Curriculum Design (DSAC-approved)
  • Teaching with Technology: Connected Learning in a Connected World
  • Deepening Content Learning by Improving Content Literacy
  • Teaching by Design in the English Language Arts Classroom
  • Reading and Writing in the Disciplines
  • Science Literacy / Literacy in Science Institute
  • Summer Leadership Institute
  • ELL Leadership Institute
  • Literacy Leadership Institute

Full-year Partnerships, including Workshops, Demonstrations, and General Consulting

  • Effective Writing: Using Write Traits in the Elementary Grades
  • Nurturing a Culture of Reading and Writing in the Content-Areas
  • Project-Based Learning Programs

Costs and Procedures

WMWP works directly with schools and/or districts to design and implement customized professional development programs to meet local needs. Formats include school professional development days, early release or late start days, after-school workshop series, classroom demonstrations and coaching, graduate courses (including DSAC-approved programs), summer institutes, and a variety of combinations, including hybrid online and face-to-face offerings.

Professional development workshop fees: $200/hour, 3-hour minimum.  All rates are based on a 20-participant maximum (unless otherwise specified). Larger groups can be accommodated at an additional $50 per hour for each additional 5 participants.

Sample costs:

  • Half-day workshop (~3 hours): $600
  • Full-day workshop (~6 hours): $1,200
  • Workshop Series – 15-Hour Course): $3,000
  • Workshop Series – 35-Hour Course: $6,000
  • Full-Year Partnership (including workshops, demonstrations, and general consulting): $10,000-$20,000, depending on level of service

Presentation fees include ongoing collaboration with Professional Development Coordinator, presenters’ preparation and travel time, and presentation materials. Travel beyond 25 miles from Amherst or presenter’s base may result in additional charges.

Textbooks, if required, are the responsibility of the district. Graduate credit, if applicable, is available to participants at the reduced rate of $100 per credit, plus a registration fee.

General consulting fees: $75/hour

General consulting includes task force participation, curriculum writing, evaluation studies, mentoring or coaching, facilitating Professional Learning Communities, and similar activities, including meetings, online support, writing and research time.

To explore program options, please call or e-mail Professional Development Coordinator Jane Baer-Leighton, who will inquire about your needs, offer suggestions, and develop a proposal. She can be reached at 413-545-5466 or

Federal Funding

Funding that supports contracting or partnering with WMWP:

Title I, Part A:

  • professional development and mentor programs for Title I schools and teachers

Title II, Part A:

  • professional development for helping teachers meet federal teacher requirements
  • professional development in subject-matter knowledge, improving teaching skills, assisting teachers to use Massachusetts’ academic content standards and state assessments to improve student achievement
  • mentoring and professional development for mentors

Title II, Part D:

  • professional development focused on enhancing education through technology

Title III, Part A:

  • professional development focused on improving instruction for English learners

Title VI, Part A:

  • professional development focused on improving the instruction of American Indian students.

Read more information about the provisions of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.

Professional development provided by the Western Massachusetts Writing Project values reflection and inquiry and is built on teacher knowledge, expertise, and leadership.