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IL Chicago Area WP Offers Year-Round Variation of ISI Called "Summer Institute Plus"

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Dec 6, 2015
Posted by: nicoletteamann

In order to address financial and logistical challenges, Chicago Area WP offers an innovative "Summer Institute Plus" model. 

In 2015 and for the fourth year, CAWP has offered what we have been calling “Summer Institute Plus,” which is a variation on our traditional model.  We divided the Summer Institute into two parts: a truncated summer session and follow up meetings during the year.  One important reason for this change was to attract more teachers for a shorter time commitment in the summer because in 2011, Chicago had more than 100 year-round schools whose teachers only had six-week summer vacation.  The second reason to change to this model was to help us mitigate the financial burden of paying for our traditional four-week SI. 

Part 1 took place in 10 days over three weeks in the summer in which teachers re-experienced the writing process and learned current research and methods to improve writing instruction. We started Part 1 mid-week rather than on a Monday so that the schedule included two weekends, which allowed more personal writing time.  Part 2 (or the “Plus” sessions) for our 2015 Summer Fellows takes place in four weekend sessions (Friday night and Saturday morning) in August 2015, October 2015, February 2016 and March 2016.  It is through these school year meetings when summer Fellow develop their demonstrations on topics of their interest.  

Although we were reluctant to change our historically successful 4-week summer model, we have found that the participants enjoyed knowing they would continue to learn and share throughout the school year.  Another benefit mentioned is the opportunity to go back to their classrooms to try out new ideas and collect samples from current students, which then they could incorporate into their presentations, so the sessions resembled teacher inquiry and hopefully, laid the foundation for future study. Their presentations were more thoughtful and stronger because they were supported with strong data from the classroom and were developed over a longer period of time.  Rather than diluting the impact of a Summer Institute, this model seems to help lengthen and deepen its impact on participants.