The NCTE Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing was established in 2001 by Donald H. Graves (1930-2010), professor emeritus in the early childhood program at the University of New Hampshire and renowned educator, researcher, and author on writing. The award annually recognizes teachers in grades K-6 who, through the teaching of writing, demonstrate an understanding of student improvement in writing.
Emily Elizabeth Smith from Cunningham Elementary in Austin, Texas, has been named the winner of the 2015 Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing. Smith is a fifth grade teacher of gifted ESL students who explains, “My vision for their education is an all-encompassing one that reaches every need and glorifies every strength. It must first start with a cohesive community that interacts with social justice issues of today.”
Learn more about Emily in her Reflective Essay.
Application Review Criteria
Reflective Essay. We are looking for your views on the purposes for writing, beliefs about writing, and how a teacher develops it. As you work with student writers, how do you think about both life long learning and short-term goals? We will consider your own writing in this application, looking for a sense of your voice and an awareness of the audience who might want to read this essay—teachers and others who would want to know about what you believe about writing and how you go about supporting student growth in writing.
1. Student Samples and Commentary.
We are looking for multiple samples from three students of varying writing abilities, for evidence of a variety of writing topics among the three writers, and evidence of diversity in the kinds of writing the children are doing. Commentary should address each student's growth as a writer, how the child changed and how you think that growth took place. More than describing the pieces of writing, please analyze or show what you see in each piece.
2. Evidence of writing strategy instruction in samples or teacher commentary.
What is your perspective on developing student writing ability? How do you respond to student work so the quality we see develops? How do you organize for instruction so that it actually transfers to the students' writing?
3. Evidence that instruction, beliefs, and qualities in writing are consistent.
A teacher's theoretical beliefs guide instruction and improvement in student writing. Help us see your theory-based instruction through the essay, in the writing samples, and in the commentary on the writing samples.
All portfolios and essays should be submitted by June 15, 2016.
EMAIL to: firstname.lastname@example.org OR SEND to: NCTE Graves Writing Award, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096
The NCTE Elementary Section Steering Committee selects an award recipient from the portfolios and essays submitted during the year. If the Committee feels that no significant portfolios or essays have been submitted, the award may be postponed until the next year. The award is presented at the Elementary Section Get-Together during the NCTE Annual Convention.
Donate to the NCTE Fund to help support and advance initiatives like the Donald H. Graves Writing Award that expand opportunities for the teaching and learning of language arts!
Read about the influence of Donald H. Graves in the School Talk issue "A Tribute to Donald H. Graves: Teacher, Writer, Friend" and the Language Arts article "Don Graves Remembered," with a podcast from the authors Tom Romano and Penny Kittle.
2014 -- Margaret Simon, Iberia Parish Gifted Program, New Iberia, LA (Reflective Essay)
2013 -- Heidi Weber, Loveland Elementary, Loveland, OH (Reflective Essay)
2012 -- Suzanne Lak, John M. Sexton Elementary, St. Petersburg, FL (Reflective Essay)
2011 -- No Award Given
2010 -- Julie Johnson, Avery Elementary, Hilliard, OH (Reflective Essay)
2009 -- Nancy Hutchinson Webb, Belle Heth School, Radford, VA (Reflective Essay)
2008 -- Kim Brown, Ocean Bay Elementary, Myrtle Beach, SC (Reflective Essay)
2007 -- Ann Marie Corgill, Riverchase Elementary, Hoover, AL (Reflective Essay)
2006 -- Kimberly Gombola, Dranesville Elementary School, Herndon, VA (Reflective Essay)
2005 -- Ganna Maymind, Asher Holmes Elementary, Morganville, NJ (Reflective Essay)
2004 -- Pamela Murphy, Trevor Day School, New York, NY (Reflective Essay)
2003 -- Angela Colombini, Hage Elementary School, San Diego, CA (Reflective Essay)
2002 -- Lisa Cleaveland, Jonathan Valley Elementary, Waynesville, NC (Reflective Essay)
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