Illinois State Writing Project

These units partner with the English Department to offer services and opportunities locally, regionally, and nationally.

The Illinois State Writing Project (ISWP) began in 1992 with support from a grant provided by the National Writing Project. ISWP provides professional development by emphasizing the pattern of Teachers Teaching Teachers (the motto of the NWP).

Jim Gray began the Writing Project when he found that teachers learned more from their peers than from an outside "expert" lecturing them on what they already do best. The Writing Project emphasizes teacher research and teacher writing, asking each Summer Institute Fellow to identify a problem or area for development and then spend four weeks writing and working on a teaching activity or set of activities that will address the problem. Each teacher develops a demonstration of the solution to the problem. All the other participants work through the demonstration, noting where the activities are effective and where there is room for improvement. The group then reviews the whole process and makes plans to continue to work on the project.

The work of the Summer Institute Fellows appears in a publication at the end of the summer and on a DVD that chronicles their work. Everyone in the Summ becomes a published author. Teachers from pre-kindergarten through high school and/or teachers from fields other than English (of which the ISWP has many) often come in with a fear of writing. By the end of the Summer Institute, all view themselves as writers, and published writers at that. This research and publication becomes an expected part of an ISWP Fellow's life.

After the Summer Institute, Fellows must continue their teacher research and must also continue to contribute to the ISWP model by teaching other teachers. Each participant must follow up with continued research, workshops for peers, and participation in professional organizations at the local and national levels. The Fellows receive a stipend for the Summer Institute and are expected to grow their own research through the use of that stipend for books, materials, and travel to professional meetings. The Summer Institute Fellows become a pool of experts who continue to contribute to the growth and expansion of their learning communities.

Teachers can participate in the Summer Institute as a graduate student at large or as a graduate student in the English Department. If you are interested in additional professional development, The Writing Project (ENG 409.6) can be used as part of the course work for a Master's degree.