Teacher Research and the Teaching of Writing in Urban High School Classrooms in the U.S.

Denise Patmon, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts/Boston, MA - USA

Richard L. Freed, Latin Teacher, Boston Latin Academy, Boston, MA – USA

Josh Katzman, English Language Arts Teacher, Charlestown High School, Boston, MA - USA


The purpose of this article is to examine an action research program model supported by specific teacher designed research inquiry projects concerning the teaching of writing in diverse classrooms in two schools in Boston, MA. Since 2010, Patmon’s research study funded by the Calderwood Writing Initiative, has explored how providing teachers with time, space, composition theory and practice, teacher research methodology, and expert facilitation creates a context for teachers to deeply explore questions concerning the teaching of writing that they themselves identify. Action research remains an under-utilized method for teacher professional development in the United States and is at the core of Patmon’s work. In this article, Patmon presents the program overview, review of research concerning teachers as researchers, core principles of her work, and describes her focus on Face Theory to focus teacher researchers’ lens.  Next, two teacher researchers (i.e. Freed and Katzman) share their Calderwood Teachers as Writers inquiry projects.  Freed’s study examines how to improve students’ use of textual evidence and analysis in a Latin language classroom.  Katzman’s study explains his use of personal narrative writing in relation to positive psychology in his 10th grade English course. Data for all studies has been collected by both structured and unstructured approaches, continuously analyzed and interpreted to improve delivery of writing instruction at all levels. Patmon, Freed, and Katzman recommend that similar teacher-centered, action research professional development communities be created to focus on improving the practice of literacy instruction in K-12 schools.


Key Words: teacher research, professional development, teaching in urban schools, literacy instruction, teaching writing and Latin instruction, narrative writing, Endo/Patmon’s Face Theory


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