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NCTE Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing

2017 Award Winners:

Michelle Doyle, Potspring Elementary, Timonium, MD
Laura Fuhrman, Potspring Elementary, Timonium, MD
Jenna Loomis, Seventh District Elementary, Parkton, MD
Elizabeth Soper, Potspring Elementary, Timonium, MD
Robbie Stout, Franklin Elementary, Reisterstown, MD

The learning community of Michelle Doyle, third grade, Laura Furman, first grade, Jenna Loomis, first grade, Liz Soper, first grade, and Robbie Stout, kindergarten are the recipients of the 2017 Donald H. Graves Award for the Excellence in the Teaching of Writing. The learning community has been teaching together for eight years. While teaching at three different schools, they meet monthly to share picture books, mini-lessons, and ideas across grade levels.  

Learn more about the recipients in their Reflective Essay.

NCTE Annual ConventionThe award presentation will be held at the Elementary Get-Together on Thursday, November 16 during the NCTE Annual Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.

The award recipients will also present on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in session F.02 "Ugh, I hate writing!": Harnessing the Power of Multicultural Literature to Generate Authentic and Enjoyable Writing Spaces"



Nomination Deadline:  June 15

Purpose:  To annually recognizes teachers in grades K-6 who, through the teaching of writing, demonstrate an understanding of student improvement in writing.

Award Criteria: 

Nomination application should include the following:

1. Reflective Essay.  An introductory essay of 2,000 words addressing your thoughts about writing and teaching writing, as well as discussing what you see as significant improvements in the children's texts and insight into the reasons for those improvements. (see award winners reflective essays below)

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.

2. Three portfolios of student writing, each of which contains three to five selections showing change from earlier to later in the year. Take care that each required item in the application is included and clearly labeled. Papers are to be dated, the names of the children removed, and each coded as child A, B, and C. Where possible, the three students' work should represent a broad range of ability.

For each student, include a 250-word commentary on the specific growth you see in this student's work over time, predictions of where this student might go from here as a writer, and what further instruction you could provide.

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.

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?  

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.

3. Information Sheet. Include your contact information for notification of award results (home/school address, phone numbers, email, etc.).


Deadline:  All portfolios and essays must be received by June 15 and sent to or by postal mail to NCTE Graves Writing Award, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096.

 Judging:  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. 

Donald Graves

Award Specifics:  The award recipient is presented a certificate and honorarium at the Elementary Section Get-Together during the NCTE Annual Convention.

This award 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.

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.


Past Winners:

2016:  Lily Diamond from The School at Columbia University, NY (Reflective Essay)
2015:  Emily Elizabeth Smith, Cunningham Elementary, Austin, TX (Reflective Essay)
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)


NCTE FundDonate 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!


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