Alaska State Writing Consortium

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Since 1980, the Alaska State Writing Consortium (ASWC) has been supporting the teaching of writing with teachers and students across Alaska. Its mission has always been to improve student writing through high quality, intensive professional development of teachers at all grade levels.

The ASWC model is based on the Bay Area Writing Project developed in 1974 at the University of California, Berkeley. The Bay Area’s enormous success as an effective staff development model led to the formation of the National Writing Project, which is now partially funded with annual federal appropriations. The National Writing Project has established over 175 projects worldwide. The Alaska State Writing Project is proud to be one of those sites.


In Alaska, K-12 school districts contribute an annual membership fee and join the consortium, which partners with the University of Alaska, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and the National Writing Project to deliver inservices. All 54 Alaskan districts have been ASWC members, some for 25 years. A ten-person advisory board with regional representatives who are teachers, administrators, and university faculty guide the policies and practices of the ASWC.


During its illustrious history, the ASWC has trained over 4,000 of the state’s teaching force through summer institutes, school year workshops, and credit courses. As teachers retire, new replacements are encouraged by ASWC member districts to participate in ASWC training. In the last 25 years, there have been over 100 institutes in locations from Kotzebue to Ketchikan, Bethel to Barrow. One, two, three and four week sessions center on teachers teaching teachers – about effective writing practices and research – that cross all grade levels and subject areas. Basic and Invitational Institutes are the foundation of the ASWC training repertoire. In order to respond to the differing needs of Alaskan teachers and districts, the ASWC developed and adapted specialized institutes on Primary Literacy, Writing Assessment, Reading and Writing Connections, Classroom-based Research, Technology, Writing Across the Curriculum, Scientific Writing, Brain Research, Writing to Learn Mathematics, and Writing and the Visual Arts. Online institutes and courses have been operating in Alaska for over a decade and continue to grow in popularity reaching teachers formerly cut off because they teach in remote parts of the state often accessible only by air or water. Most recently ASWC has delved into the areas of teaching teachers about weblogs and digital storytelling.

In addition to professional development, the ASWC has produced a five part video series, “Writing: Alaskan Style”, a periodic newsletter, “Northword,” a monthly e-newsletter ASWC-Notes and anthologies of writing by Alaskan teachers, Shaping the Landscape.

Based on the continued success of the ASWC, other Alaskan organizations formed similar consortia in math, science and the arts on the original ASWC model.

In October 2006, ASWC will celebrate its 25-year history at the Alaska State Literacy Association Conference in Juneau, Alaska. Guests will include NWP directors, advisory board members who have served the organization, current members, as well as government dignitaries and representatives of organizations who have supported ASWC through the years.

Founders the Alaska State Writing Consortium[edit]

  • Darby Anderson
  • Diane Borgman
  • Dottie Sanders
  • Eileen Clark
  • Elyse Eidman-Aadahl
  • Ginny King-Taylor
  • Lynn Fry
  • Marilyn Buckley
  • Mary K. Healy
  • Richard Sterling
  • Sondra Porter
  • Susan Stitham