summer program

Redesigning the Summer Institute

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Author: Tonya Perry

Summary: The first NWP Invitational Summer Institute in 1974 established a model professional development experience, the basic principles and elements of which have been sustained at local writing project sites over the decades since. But even the best program design invites constant evaluation and adaptation. Reflection is a hallmark of our work and attention to both new opportunities and the changing needs of teacher participants is a vital part of what makes NWP programs so successful. Noting three challenges that emerged over time in relation to their traditional ISI model; timing, teaching demonstrations, and sustaining TCs active engagement with the site beyond the institute, the Colorado State University Writing Project adapted their Invitational Institute’s program design to be responsive to both the challenges and opportunities they faced. This reflective piece is of particular interest to site leaders facing similar circumstances who are interested in following the theory of action and process that CSUWP followed in adapting and redesigning this core program.

From Young Writers Camp to Young Adult Literacy Labs: CT Connecticut-Fairfield Finds New Ways to Revitalize Youth Programs

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Author: Susanna Steeg

Summary: The Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield’s adaptation of its traditional Young Writers Camp to a series of Young Adult Literacy Labs (YALLs) provides food for thought for site leaders designing new or considering changes to existing youth programming. The primary change was a move away from two large general writing camps to a dozen smaller genre-specific camps. The change, while attracting more participants, also allowed the site to integrate the camps and the Invitational Institute in some innovative ways, including creating opportunities for camp instructors to present workshops that engaged teachers and young writers in writing together. Importantly, the camps provide the site with a robust revenue line that fully supports the YALLs, provides student scholarships, and generates income for other site activities.

Planning for Young Writers Camps

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Author: June Joyner

Summary: Many writing project sites count on young authors’ camps to reach out to the community and bring in revenue. This resource is a planning tool that illustrates how one writing project site thought through the decisions involved in launching a summer youth camp. Those looking to expand, revise, or begin summer youth writing programs may find this resource useful, as it 1) lists expectations for teachers leading camps, 2) provides budget “givens” and guidelines, and 3) outlines the many decisions camp leadership teams make in preparing for an engaging summer experience that also contributes to site income.

The Journey of an Emerging Site Leader

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Author: Kathleen Ann Gonzalez

Summary: Are you taking on a new role at your writing project? Are you both excited and nervous? If so, then joining this journey of stepping into the role of a site leader may help set you at ease. The author confirms what we know deep down: trusting your writing project instincts and staying true to NWP core principles lead to positive outcomes and experiences. Highlights not to be missed include several concrete strategies and suggestions on how to help writing groups develop community and maintain momentum throughout an institute.

Coaching Guide and Protocol

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Summary: This coaching guide and protocol from the Southern Colorado WP may be helpful if you are looking for ways to support teachers in presenting their work to colleagues. While the protocol lays out a schedule and rationale for meetings between presenting teachers and their mentors, the guide provides a framework for establishing roles/relationships/responsibilities and provides a set of questions that can be used to guide the thinking partners through the stages of identifying a question, researching the question(s), and creating a demonstration/inquiry workshop.

Exploring “Systems Thinking” with Grinding New Lenses (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Eight teachers from three National Writing Project sites spent a month in Chicago exploring the power of systems thinking to support students in the way they learn, make, and write. Of particular interest to teachers planning and leading young writers programs that focus on digital literacy, this project, called “Grinding New Lenses,” engaged teachers in their own learning and thinking about systems, followed by an opportunity to lead a summer camp with youth from the surrounding area.

Curriculum Rewired: Teachers and Students Come Together Around Innovative New Pedagogy

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Author: Razeen Zaman

Summary: “Grinding New Lenses,” a four-week summer camp supported by a MacArthur Foundation grant, combined intensive professional development in design thinking for teachers with their leading a program for sixty-five rising sixth- and seventh-grade Chicago area students that engaged them as game designers and digital storytellers. “The end result: students who learned to take on roles as proficient designers, philosophers, writers, and activists; teachers who become avid systems thinkers; and strong curricula that underwent a rapid process of iteration, innovation and refinement.” This article and the related NWP Radio show offer inspiration for teacher leaders planning youth opportunities focused on developing students’ digital literacy.

Enabling Communities and Collaborative Responses to Teaching Demonstrations

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Author: Janet A. Swenson, Diana Mitchell

Summary: This monograph explains a useful protocol developed by Red Cedar Writing Project for responding to demonstrations in the Summer Institute, called the Collaborative Responses to Teaching Demonstrations (CRTD). This response takes the form of a letter to the person offering the demonstration, thus providing responders with opportunities to draft and revise a piece with a clear audience and purpose. The monograph includes discussions of each aspect of the protocol, as well as tools to help prepare teachers for response, both prior to and during the Summer Institute.

Moving Toward the Paperless Institute

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Author: Eric Hasty and Bob Fecho

Summary: Two summer institute facilitators reflect on their transition, over a number of years, to a paperless institute. From virtual classrooms to a web page, to Meeting Wizard and online surveys, they describe how their summer institute embraced digital technologies as they followed the inquiry, “What if?” One central understanding that evolved was “… technology allows us to create a living space to develop, store, and review our ideas as they grow.” This story of their journey would be a useful resource for summer institute or school-year PD facilitators when they are designing their schedule and making decisions about the best forums for daily logs, communication among the fellows, anthology development, and continuity spaces.

Changing Times: Adapting the Invitational Summer Institute to an Online Environment

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Author: Ken Martin

Summary: Ken Martin, director of the Maine WP, shares lessons learned in transitioning MWP’s Invitational Institute from a traditional face-to-face summer program to a year round online institute. This comprehensive study reviews the rationale for moving to an online institute; the successes, struggles, and modifications implemented during the first several iterations; how roles and relationships changed as a result of the move; and how the touchstone activities and rituals of the Summer Institute translate to an online environment. In addition, helpful examples of and protocols for how to translate writing groups, writing marathons, peer response groups, and mentoring to an online environment are included in the appendices. Whether looking to simply incorporate more online components into a PD experience or transitioning to/developing a fully online experience, you will find this report to be an invaluable resource.