Photos taken during previous Hoosier Writing Project summer sessions.
Each summer, a group of teachers from around the state gather at IUPUI to focus on writing and how they can use it more effectively in their classroom.
The Hoosier Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project, was founded in 1993 and is run through the English Department at the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The Summer Institute, hosted on the IUPUI campus and through a satellite site in South Bend, has hosted more than 300 teachers over the years.
The summer program is a professional development opportunity for teachers of any grade level – kindergarten through college – and of any subject, not just English, said Steve Fox, Director of the Hoosier Writing Project and professor in the School of Liberal Arts. Teachers apply to the program, which usually includes about 10 to 12 teachers.
Days are spent talking about teaching and writing, with interactive teaching demonstrations that are driven by inquiry and research based.
Teachers also get the chance to do their own writing, which can be difficult to dedicate time to during the school year. Teachers can choose from multiple types of writing, from poetry to writing a letter to the editor. Then, they meet in small writing groups for peer response.
By doing that writing and working to connect it to their teaching, teachers are better able to help their students connect with their lessons, Fox said.
This year, the 13-day Summer Institute is being hosted online due to COVID-19, which is a first for the Indiana project. But in other areas, where the population is more spread out such as eastern Kentucky, they routinely offer an online institute. That has allowed the local program to learn about best practices that still promote community-building, Fox said.
Community-building is a significant element of the summer program, in which teachers build connections and often stay in touch long after the summer ends. They share ideas that each of them can adapt and learn from, he said.
Fox plans to consider using the online option in the future, in addition to in-person events, to include more teachers who may not be able to travel to IUPUI for the Summer Institute.