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NCTE Donald H. Graves Writing Award

Donald GravesThe 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. 




Submission Process

Applicants for the award should submit the following:

  • 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) 

  • 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.

  • Information Sheet. Include your contact information for notification of award results (home/school address, phone numbers, email, etc.).
    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 JULY 29, 2016 (deadline extended)

    EMAIL to:  

    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


    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!

    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

    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)

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    Becoming Writers in the Elementary Classroom
    Using the Writer's Notebook in Grades 3-8
    What Works in Writing Instruction
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