UNT receives $480,000 grant for South Texas writing project

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 18:18

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- This year, students in South Texas will learn tips to strengthen their writing skills in a variety of classes -- including math, science, reading, English and more -- with the help of the University of North Texas' North Star of Texas Writing Project.

UNT's North Star of Texas Writing Project received a $480,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency to organize professional development workshops for South Texas teachers, who will take their newly learned tips back to the classroom.

"The goal is to enhance teachers' knowledge about reading and writing, which will then enhance students' knowledge of reading and writing and improve test scores," said Carol Wickstrom, director of the North Star of Texas Writing Project.

While some workshops are tailored for English language arts teachers, others help teachers of math, science, music, history and other subjects learn how to effectively incorporate reading and writing into their classes.

"We're moving away from the idea that math and science teachers don't teach reading and writing," Wickstrom said. "We're helping students understand reading and writing skills they need for that discipline. We aren't adding to teachers' curriculum, but we are providing other ways they can build on that curriculum."

Professional development workshops for South Texas teachers started this summer and will continue through June.

"Once school gets started, the site coordinators will go back to the schools and create ongoing professional development plans for teachers," Wickstrom said. "Every month, they will offer professional development for the teachers."

Sixty English and language arts teachers from the Raymondville, Lyford, Rio Hondo, Santa Maria and Monte Alto school districts attended a four-day writing institute in July in Brownsville. In August, middle school and high school teachers from various disciplines -- including math, science, history, music and more – are attending professional development workshops to learn how to integrate reading and writing strategies into their classrooms. Project leaders will also work with teachers from the Jim Hogg County, Zapata County and Laredo school districts. Teacher consultants will then provide schools with customized plans, writing workshops, on-site coaching and online courses and mentoring.

About the North Star of Texas Writing Project at UNT

The North Star of Texas Writing Project at UNT partners with schools in several school districts to support individual teachers. North Star works to empower students by empowering their educators through a professional community.

About UNT's College of Education

UNT's College of Education prepares students to contribute to the advancement of education, health and human development. Founded in 1890 as a teacher's training college, UNT now enrolls more than 4,000 students in the College of Education, which consists of four departments -- counseling and higher education; educational psychology; kinesiology, health promotion and recreation; and teacher education and administration. UNT's College of Education certifies about 1,000 teachers a year -- making it the largest producer of new teachers in the north Texas region. Students are also prepared for careers as researchers, counselors, leaders, physical activity and health promotion specialists, child development and family studies specialists and more.

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