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PAWLP — An Invitation to Inquiry

By Janice Ewing

       “Transforming wonderings into questions is the start of teacher research” (Hubbard & Power, 2003).

      This month on our blog we’ve been exploring the challenges and rewards of research and inquiry. Tricia Ebarvia shared the thoughtful process she has developed with her students  in “Updating the Research Paper” and Rita Sorrentino examined the timely issue of “Why Johnny Can’t Search.” These and numerous other posts have inspired me to reflect on the value of teacher research and inquiry and on PAWLP’s role in creating a culture that invites us into these practices and sustains their growth.

       In the fall, a group of us read and discussed Adam Grant’s Give and Take. Jolene Borgese and Rina Vasallo designed an interactive session in which we experienced the concepts of the book in memorable ways. Following this meeting, Kim Kraf and I wondered how it would work to integrate Grant’s Reciprocity Ring into our Saturday Continuity sessions. This is a group activity in which each member shares a request for information or support on particular topic (job search, professional resource, etc.) and members of the group give suggestions or recommendations. We tried it out and met with enthusiasm from the participants, so that has become a feature of many of our sessions.

       In November, several of us attended the NWP and NCTE annual conferences. We were introduced to strategies to encourage teachers to shape their day-to-day tensions and questions into meaningful narratives, and, through reflection and collaboration, these strategies also found their way into our Continuity sessions.  In March, we had an inspiring PAWLP day with Persida Himmele, who led us to question and broaden our views of what it means to have an inclusive classroom, with a special focus on the needs of ELL students. The day included other inspiring break-out sessions with PAWLP Fellows Bob Zakrzewski, Eileen Hutchinson, and Sandra Crook. We were left with much to think about and further questions to explore.

      Some of us have been examining and applying the NWP’s Analytic Writing Continuum, as well as Vicky Spandel’s Six Traits Model, through a book study of Creating Writers. Throughout this initiative, we find ourselves forming questions – how are these frameworks the same and different, how will we integrate each of them as we move forward… Once again, we find ourselves drawn into an inquiry that goes above and beyond the original task at hand.

       An invitation from PAWLP, whether it is to a morning workshop, a course, an Institute, a conference, or a publication, is an invitation to inquiry. Join us as we “transform (our) wonderings to questions” and explore them together.


Janice Ewing is a PAWLP co-director and an adjunct instructor for Cabrini College. She loves reading and writing, especially poetry, and finds energy in inquiry. She and her family and friends enjoy talking about books and movies over good food and wine.

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