Conference Takes New Approach to Writing

Conference Takes New Approach to Writing


The best way to support learning may be to get teachers out of the classroom — and into interactive writing workshops.

Writing Matters, a two-day conference that offers innovative strategies for teaching writing at all grade levels, takes place Friday, March 8, and Saturday, March 9, in SUNY Cortland’s Corey Union. At the conference, educators from kindergarten to college will rub elbows and share ideas on integrating writing and learning.

Friday’s session, which features free writing workshop options for teachers and a cash bar, takes place from 5 to 8 p.m., with an open mic session at 7 p.m.

Saturday’s sessions start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., offering four writing workshop sessions and a keynote talk titled “Writing and the Health of a Classroom” from Jill Murphy, an associate professor of health at SUNY Cortland and a faculty member in the Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

The cost for both days is $30 and the fee includes refreshments, lunch and conference materials. SUNY Cortland students will be admitted free, although registration is requested.

Participants can register and interested presenters can submit proposals for the conference on its Web page. Accepted presenters also are eligible to receive a stipend.

“Most teachers are daily writers,” said David Franke, the director of the Seven Valleys Writing Project and a professor of English at SUNY Cortland. “They compose comments on papers and write a huge number of lesson plans and reports.

“This conference gives teachers time to use writing for their own ends, to research their classrooms, reflect on their practice, and of course teach writing more effectively in their classroom.”

Teachers from all content areas are invited to attend. The conference’s teachings will take into account Common Core State Standard Initiatives, Franke noted.

“Innovative writing approaches can help teachers meet state standards and their personal classroom goals, even when the two do not dovetail,” Franke said.

The Friday session will allow teachers to discuss creative teaching methods and take a spot at the open mic. The Saturday session is more traditional, with a keynote talk from Murphy and four, one-hour workshops.

Murphy has co-authored several manuscripts. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in epidemiology from the University at Buffalo and conducted her dissertation work based at the Department of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

In some workshops, presenters will speak as writers on their own research or creative projects. In others, presenters will offer interactive sessions that demonstrate how writing can be used to move learning forward.

Writing Matters is sponsored by the National Writing Project, SUNY Cortland, the Dryden Teachers Center, the Cortland Teachers Center, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES, the Seven Valleys Writing Project and the Empire State Writing Project Network.

For more information, visit the conference’s website at or contact Danielle Sullivan, an associate director of the Seven Valleys Writing Project.