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Illinois State Writing Project


Who can participate in the Illinois State Writing Project?

Most of our participants are teachers, but we welcome principals, assistant principals, special education coordinators, and any other individuals who have a vested interest in improving the quality of writing and writing instruction in area schools.

Since this is a "writing" project, do only Language Arts teachers participate?

Absolutely not! Although many of the teachers in the ISWP are language arts teachers at the K—12 level, we routinely have teachers whose specialties are as diverse as music and math, art and history. We also welcome college-level teachers from any discipline. We believe that it's the responsibility of all educators to teach writing the best they can, and we hope to foster the growth and development of all teachers.

Sounds great! How do I sign up for the Summer Institute?

That's easy — just fill out an application and tell us about your experiences as a writer and/or as a writing teacher. Choose an application to fill out: Microsoft Word | Acrobat | HTML.

But is it expensive?

That's the best part: the Illinois State Writing Project is funded primarily by grants from the federal government! Therefore, not only does the Writing Project pay the tuition for its summer "fellows," but we can usually add to that a small stipend for participants.and then offer productive feedback when the activity is over. These demonstrations are the core of the Writing Project — where teachers teach teachers — and from them, we all learn to be better teachers and writers.

If I'm accepted into the Summer Institute, what can I expect?

Summer Institute participants spend Mondays through Thursdays doing a variety of writing activities. Morning activities range from "writing crawls" (where we travel to various places around town and write — parks, coffee shops, history museums, etc.) and experimenting with new writing technologies to rehearsing teaching demonstrations. After lunch, we usually spend time reading about best practices in the teaching of writing, writing in our journals, and participating in Teaching Demonstrations conducted by previous and current Summer Institute fellows. On Thursdays, we have lunch together and take time to chat about what we've already accomplished each week.

Teaching Demonstrations? What's that?

All teachers have writing activities that they do really well, that their students seem to love. The point of the Summer Institute, however, is to grow. During the first two weeks of the Summer Institute, new participants serve as "students" to past SI fellows who return to give new teaching demonstrations. New participants also use use mornings, then, to meet with their Teacher Consultants and develop new writing activities to use with their own students when they return to teach in the fall. By week two, some new participants are ready to "demo" their teaching activities with the whole group of summer fellows. The other teachers serve as an "expert" audience: they participate in the writing activities.

So if we spend our afternoons "writing," what sort of class is this? Are there tests?

Well, we don't call this a CLASS at all. And the only "test" you'll have is being an active paticipant. Yes, you get graduate credit for it (or CPDUs, if you'd rather have them), but unlike other college classes, you won't sit around listening to a teacher tell you how to teach writing or what "good writing" is or anything like that. Instead, the Summer Institute is a workshop where great teachers come together to grow as teachers, building on each other's strengths.

What's this Post-Bac. Certificate in the Teaching of Writing?

Recently, the English department at Illinois State University created a new six-course certificate program for middle and high school teachers in all disciplines. The first of its kind in the country, the certificate program consists of six courses:

  • 409.01 — Major Figures in the Teaching of Writing in High School/Middle School
  • 409.02 —Teaching of Grammar in High School/Middle School
  • 409.03 — Writing Assessment in High School/Middle School
  • 409.04 —Using Technology to Teach Writing in High School/Middle School
  • 409.05 —Applying Rhetoric to the Teaching of Writing in High School/Middle School
  • 409.06 — llinois State Writing Project

These courses can be taken for certificate credit, and they can also count toward a master's or doctoral degree in English. We typically offer one 409 course each semester in rotation. It is possible to substitute an appropriate 400-level Composition /Rhetoric course for any of the 409 courses.

More information about the Certificate in Teaching Writing is available on the English Department Graduate website.

Since the Summer Institute is listed as a graduate course, does that mean it counts toward a master's or doctoral degree?

Definitely! Because it's a 400-level course, it would count in both master's and doctoral programs of study. If you've already started your master's or Ph.D., then you should see your graduate director in order to figure out how to "count" the Summer Institute as part of your coursework. Just as good, of course, is that the ISWP Summer Institute counts as one of the six required courses for the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing.

For more information on how to take courses beyond the Writing Project, contact Dr. Chris De Santis, Director of Graduate Studies for the English Department.

What if I have more questions?


Contact Illinois State Writing Project

c/o the English Department

Illinois State University

Phone: (309) 438-3667

Email: The Writing Project