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The Lake Superior Writing Project: Mini-Institute 2011

 


Group Shot
Participants during the mini-institute discuss and share their writing

Despite dwindling budgets and increasing demands on time that prevent teachers from focusing on their professional growth, the Lake Superior Writing Project offered 12 local educators a rare opportunity from July 11-15 with the second annual Lake Superior Writing Project Mini-Institute.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Writing Project and hosted jointly by the UMD Department of Education and the College of Liberal Arts, the mini-institute provides professional development for teachers of any subject from kindergarten to college level.

During the institute, teachers explore writing strategies and rediscover writing for themselves. Their work this year has been inspired by Writing Toward Home: Tales and Lessons to Find Your Way by Georgia Heard.

“When teachers have a passion for writing, it is communicated to the students that writing is important,” said one participant. “This gathering revives our writing voices. It is helping me remember how much I love writing.”

Susan Perala-Dewey from the college of liberal arts and Jean Stevenson from the college of education and human services professions began to conceive a writing project at UMD a few years ago. With the support of the Minnesota Writing Project (MWP), housed at the University of Minnesota Minneapolis, they have taken the first steps to build the project. Muriel Thompson and Kirsten Jamsen, co-directors of MWP, procured funding through the National Writing Project (NWP). The NWP is dedicated to facilitating high quality professional development for teachers. They began in 1981 at the University of California Berkley and have grown to support more than 200 sites nationwide, and a few internationally. Local sites are developed in partnership with universities, school districts, and other funding sources. The NWP's success is due largely to their model: teachers teaching teachers. They also believe that teachers deserve the support of a strong professional development network, and that classroom teachers across grade levels and disciplines have much to learn from one another about writing.

“This writing project has transformed me as a writer. In this short time I have become comfortable in my cohort and so supported that I now believe in myself as a writer,”one participant said . “For one week we, as teachers, have the gift of immersing ourselves in writing, building a trusting community, and sharing with one another strategies that will make us better teachers when we return to our classrooms this fall.”

While the mini-institute is scheduled for only a week, teachers are amazed with how much they learn, and how much they bring back to their classrooms. The weeklong event offers participants the chance to write and discover more about the writing process; learn from other teachers about the teaching of writing; become part of a community of teacher-writers; explore current theory and practice in the teaching of writing; and, access a wealth of professional development resources to share with their schools.

"For one week we, as teachers, have the gift of immersing ourselves in writing, building a trusting community, and sharing with one another strategies that will make us better teachers when we return to our classrooms this fall," said a returning participant.

The first mini-institute was hosted at UMD last summer. Participants from last year’s institute visited on Wednesday, July 13, and shared their continuing enthusiasm for the support the writing project provides. Visit the Lake Superior Writing Project for details.

For more information about MWP, see the Minnesota Writing Project

Additional Information about the National Writing Project

The National Writing Project began in 1981 at the University of California Berkley. The NWP is dedicated to facilitating high quality professional development for teachers and has grown to support more than 200 sites nationwide, and a few sites internationally. Local sites are developed in partnership with universities, school districts, and other funding sources. The NWP’s success is due largely to their model: teachers teaching teachers. They believe that all teachers deserve the support of strong professional development networks, and that classroom teachers across grade levels (PreK-College) and disciplines have much to learn from one another about writing. For more information about NWP, see National Writing Project

 

 

— written by Christiana Kapsner and Susan Perala-Dewey, 7/20/2011
 



 

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