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OR The Oregon Writing Project Collaborative at George Fox Uses Inquiry to Design Two Pilot Institute Models

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Jul 9, 2015
Posted by: khamlin

Because our site was in transition last summer, we decided to hold a three day "Taste of the Summer Institute" instead of a Summer Institute so that we could continue to recruit future participants and provide a “Writing Project” type of activity for returning TCs.  We were delighted with the strong enrollment of teachers, about half representing teachers new to Writing Project work.  Discussions with the participants about formats that would make it possible for them to attend a full Institute led us to experiment with the following two designs. 

  • The Winter/Spring Institute, which brought us 13 new participants and 4 invited/recruited TC's along with our leadership group of 4. (See attached postcard.)
  • A revised Summer Institute format (1 day, 2 weeks, additional sessions in the fall)

The "Taste of" inquiry suggested two alternatives to us, and we have now experimented successfully with both.  Our Institute Director, Nancy Fischer, who has years of experience leading the Summer Institute and greatly values the community aspect, was pleased with the strong sense of community that she and her leadership group of 5 developed. Once doubtful, she now recommends this new format.  Our initial concerns centered on finding ways to provide teachers with sufficient writing and sharing time.  For the Winter/Spring Institute we experimented with online writing groups, which were only partially successful (and we are thinking through ways to address that piece.)  We have valued the intensive nature of the four week Summer Institute which not only provides time for extensive writing and reflection with peers, but also establishes lifelong professional colleagues for many teachers.  Nancy and her team discovered, however, that they were able to create that sense of community and teachers were able to dig in and complete substantial amounts of writing and sharing.  They were able to retain the major threads of the work of an ISI within this shortened format.  (See Institute description and content at http://www.georgefox.edu/oregon-writing-project/summer-institute.html   Extending the Institute into the school year has provided teachers with a way to try out ideas and share resulting lessons and student work.  These Summer Institute teachers are eager to reconvene in the fall to reconnect and share their follow up work.

Our current plan is to continue with both Institutes:  a Winter/Spring Institute housed at George Fox and a shortened Summer Institute with follow up sessions extending into fall in the Salem area.  We feel that these options will provide access and accommodate the needs of busy teachers who want to participate in an Institute, but who aren’t able to give up four weeks of their summers. 

Here's more information about OWPC's "Taste of the Summer Institute"