Summer Institute FAQs

  • Become a more effective and energized teacher of writing
  • Learn strategies to raise the success levels of your students' writing in class and on standardized tests such as the MEAP
  • Join the larger conversation of dedicated and experienced teachers of writing
  • Garner international recognition and credentials as a National Writing Project teacher-consultant

Summer Institute is a workshop designed to be both more demanding and more fulfilling than traditional staff development programs. Also, Summer Institute connects to the National Writing Project’s philosophy that teachers improve their own teaching practices by working with other outstanding teachers in group-learning activities.

There is no cost to participate other than the cost of books. All fellows you successfully complete Summer Institute will have the choice of a $400 cash stipend OR a full three-credit GVSU scholarship (approx value $1,809). If you choose the stipend, this will be paid to you upon successful completion of the course. If you choose the scholarship, this will be applied to ENG 632.

We have two required texts every year. The cost is usually less than $30. We also set up an extensive library during the Institute, and those books are available to fellows to borrow at any time.

We always seek a group representing all (K - 16) teaching levels. We welcome teachers from the business world (e.g. corporate training centers) or from specialty schools and home schools. We welcome any teacher of writing, regardless of subject area.

  • Presentation of demonstration lessons by participants, followed by peer evaluations
  • Presentation of lecture, workshop, or demonstration lessons by institute directors
  • Writing by participants
  • Reading group participation centered around two complementary writing-related texts
  • Planning of follow-up activities for the upcoming academic year

Since Summer Institute fellows earn three hours of graduate credit, they are expected to do some reading and writing outside of the Institute hours. However, since participants are actively engaged in learning during the day, fellows spend less time doing "homework" than for other graduate classes.

Each fellow will model a best practice from one’s classroom in writing for the entire group. Fellows’ demonstrations will be examples of lessons that involve writing in their own classrooms. Student work, activities that take the audience through some of the process, and professional/theoretical references will be part of the demonstration. After each demonstration, there will be a discussion of the teaching concepts and principles shown in the lesson. Each fellow will learn to apply teaching concepts based on core literacy development principles across all grade levels and subject areas.

If you have some idea of what favorite lesson you might like to share for your teaching demonstration, you will want to bring the needed materials home at the end of the school year. The demonstration itself should last about 75 minutes and will include all parts of your lesson (introduction, activities, closure). In an effort to keep paper copies to a minimum, each demo is put on the Institute's website.

In general, we expect participants to be present every day unless there are unavoidable personal emergencies or professional responsibilities. Barring extenuating circumstances, no fellow should miss more than one full day of the institute.

After the Summer Institute (ENG 632), the Writing Project offers a teacher-research class (ENG 633). This class meets periodically throughout the year and develops a teacher-researcher project based on writing in one's classroom. Meeting with this group and eventually writing an article about the teaching of writing in your classroom will earn you either another cash stipend or a full three-credit GVSU scholarship.

We welcome adult visitors, especially administrators and teachers who might like to participate in future Summer Institutes. Although our work is fun, it is also intense and paced for talented adult learners. Therefore, except on special prearranged occasions, children should not be brought to the Institute.

We will choose, from our initial applicant pool, to interview 20 candidates for approximately 15 slots. If you are invited for an interview, you have an excellent chance of becoming a fellow.

Fellows do need to be willing to try out a variety of learning experiences in a computer classroom. The more comfortable you are with working with a computer, the better; but lack of experience should not prevent you from becoming a fellow.

Fellows should remain on campus during Institute hours. We try to have one extended lunch per week, but this is a time when all fellows enjoy a festive meal together. We would rather pack our days with activities, including discussions over lunch, to keep the hours of the Institute more manageable.

Please notify us immediately so that we can contact an alternate before the Welcome Dinner. We never add alternates after the dinner as too much learning happens after that point to be "made up" later.

We are planning to host our 2021 Summer Institute while carefully following the safety guidelines of GVSU and the state. We have reserved a larger room on campus to allow for social distancing. Masks are currently required on GVSU campuses. In the coming months, we'll have a better idea of what these safety measures will look like.