The purpose of the Montana Writing Project is to increase the effectiveness of the teaching and learning of writing in all levels of education in Montana. Since its beginning in 1978, the Montana Writing Project has trained Teacher-Consultants to conduct writing workshops and curriculum in-service programs that promote and improve the teaching of writing in their schools and districts. They also participate in follow-up activities such as developing curriculum guides, assessing writing skills of Montana students, attending programs and presenting sessions at professional meetings.
Montana Writing Project is a local site of the National Writing Project (NWP) which began in 1974 (http://www.writingproject.org/). Currently, NWP consists of nearly 200 Writing Project sites that serve over 141,000 educators annually. The NWP has gained national recognition for its success in improving students' writing by increasing teachers' knowledge and instructional skills in composition.
While it is based upon multiple purposes, the Montana Writing Project operates under three primary premises:
- Teachers of writing themselves must write.
- The teaching of writing can be improved by having teachers from all levels and all subject areas share their expertise with each other.
- Teachers benefit from studying and conducting research.
These premises are an integral part of MWP's Summer Institute, which is the core program of this and all Writing Project sites. These Institutes, held in Missoula, Billings and Browning, bring teachers of writing together for three to four weeks to write, share knowledge, research, demonstrate and plan. Upon completing an Institute, teachers become qualified Teacher Consultants and are able to provide writing workshops and in-service programs in their own schools. Thus the learning that goes on in Summer Institute carries on in schools across the state.
To date, MWP has trained approximately 430 Teacher Consultants from 65 separate schools in Montana. MWP and its Teacher Consultants have influenced and benefited the teaching of writing for thousands of Montana students and more than 4000 Montana teachers.