Invitational Summer Institute Expectations & Requirements

“More than anything else the project does, its insistence that teachers of writing must write has caught the interest and imagination of the larger community.  Writing is the ultimate hands-on experience for the National Writing Project.”  James Gray, founder of National Writing Project

BLOG:  Fellows will contribute to the Institute Blog.  Between orientation and the start of the Summer Institute, Fellows should access NWP Connect and respond to our first reading, Testing Is Not Teaching by Donald H. Graves.  Over the course of the Institute, Fellows will post their own comments and respond to other Fellows’ posts.

HOSTING:  Fellows take turns “hosting” during the days of the Institute.  Hosting includes bringing in snackable items for the group to nosh on throughout the day.  In addition, Hosts offer the opening and closing moments (short poems, prose passages, or videos that get us all thinking) and “Blog the day,” reflecting on the day’s events.  It’s a good idea for hosts to get together ahead of time to organize and plan.

WRITING GROUPS:  Every day or two, you will have time to work with the Fellows in your writing group.  This is a great time to talk about the writing you’re doing in small groups, with the idea that -- while we all grow close as an Institute -- the folks in your group will become your “Writers in Arms” -- the few individuals who both know you as the person you are and the writer you are.  How you use your time is up to you.  Maybe you use it to journal and then do a quick read-around; maybe you use it for feedback on work you’re struggling with or work you want to improve; maybe you use it to sing each other’s praises.

WRITER’S NOTEBOOK:  This is your place to play with words, to dream, to noodle, draft, sketch -- whatever helps you as your writing stretches and grows.  You might want to reflect on Institute discussions and workshops as well as record responses to your readings.  This notebook is all yours and you should use whatever format feels right to you: digital, fancy journal, cheap notepad -- whatever makes you comfortable.  Your notebook reflects your experience in the Institute as a thinker, reader, writer, learner, teacher, friend, parent, is not something we will “collect,” but you may include it in your portfolio (see below) if you wish.

PATH (Workshop or ART): For the fall, each fellow will prepare a presentation of either a teaching workshop or the results of action research for teachers.  Workshops last 70 minutes and ART presentations are 45 minutes.  Throughout the institute TC’s will present model workshops of different teaching practices as examples.  We will also have a discussion and guidance for how to do ART.  Mentors will serve as coaches for the development of this presentation.  Fellows should choose the path that serves them best.

READINGS:  Fellows will complete selected readings by the due dates for discussion  purposes only -- written responses can be completed any time during the Institute (see “Reading List” for a list of works and “Portfolio Requirements” for reading response criteria).

PORTFOLIO:  Fellows will complete, by the end of each Institute, a portfolio that will  be a catalogue of written work created during the Summer and Fall.  Below you will find a list of portfolio “requirements” -- but because we all approach our writing and teaching differently, we encourage you to interpret those requirements in a way that will best reflect your personal style and philosophy.  Each portfolio, we expect, will have its own look, its own voice.

As you can see, the portfolio is really about you and your needs as a writer.  While we share some guidelines for the basics, we trust that you are curious and thoughtful professionals.  We know you will read, talk, think, and write about issues focused on writing, the teaching of writing, education, your teaching practice....The writer Hortense Calisher has called the short story “a container for change.”  That’s how we think of the portfolio.