Crystal B. Taylor, Ph.D., director of career, technical and adult education for the Roanoke City Public Schools in Virginia, holds four workshops on integrating academics during the school year. Taylor reports positive feedback from workshop attendees and believes that teachers return to the classroom with knowledge that is contributing to raising overall test scores for students.
"Most teachers express that attending these workshops has helped with classroom instruction," Taylor says. "In career and technical education, it is important that we align our curriculum in a way that it enables and enhances the academic component. In Roanoke City Schools, we have two workshops to assist with integrating reading and writing in CTE courses. One workshop is titled Writing Strategies in CTE."
Taylor notes, "According to the Curriculum Update, Summer 2003, of ASCD [the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development], we need to expand the students' writing, and teacher training holds the key to change."
Taylor quotes the following from the publication: "Writing across the curriculum allows teachers to assess what students are learning, what they know, and what they are not learning."
She notes that in the article, Dr. Douglas B. Reeves, author of Reason to Write: Help Your Child Succeed in School and in Life Through Better Reasoning and Clear Communication (2002), explains that writing is important because it improves reading comprehension as well as student performance in other academic areas. It also contributes to a sense of connection in society, and writing will improve the ability of a student to communicate and succeed on state and local writing tests.
Taylor's commitment to the value of integrating academics is exemplified in the workshops teachers are required to attend in the Roanoke City public school system. As director of career, technical and adult education, Taylor believes that the materials covered in these workshops are reinforced with assignments.
"Writing is a process," she explains, "and it is important that CTE [teachers] know the process and are able to develop good writing assignments. The development of writing assignments was explained using the University Writing Program, which includes eight characteristics of a good writing assignment.
"They also explored ways for grading using the English grading rubric for our division. The object of the workshops was for the teachers to create an assignment for their classes that contains all the characteristics of a good assignment, and then use the writing rubric to grade in-class writing assignments.
"Once completed, they had to provide a reflection of the writing assignment and grading process to the CTE office. These reflections will be used for planning for the upcoming year to continue the writing across the curriculum in CTE."
When asked about the most difficult challenge in taking what is learned in workshops back to the classroom, Taylor replies, "Implementation. That is why we require the completion of assignments to be submitted to the CTE office."
Taylor also expresses her desire to see more workshops. She believes in their value in increasing student achievement and professional development. As an ACTE member, she would like to see more such workshops at the convention and across the nation. …