Ten Readings That Make a Difference
Date: January 27, 2009
Summary: Compiled by Scott Peterson, Third Coast Writing Project (MI), for a 2008 Annual Meeting workshop entitled The Invitational Summer Institute: Preparing Teacher-Consultants for Learning and Leading, this collection of readings can be used by a summer institute planning team or site leadership team to help plan the different stages of a site's summer institute.
Before the Summer Institute
Carol Tateishi, Bay Area Writing Project
This article provides many practical suggestions and presents a fairly detailed model of this crucial part of the summer institute.
Anne-Marie Hall, Roger Shanley, Flory Simon, Southern Arizona Writing Project
Don't let the title fool you. This long, detailed document has suggestions for every aspect of the summer institute, including early recruitment, pre-institute meetings, professional development, continuity events, professional libraries, and the coaching of teaching demonstrations.
Nick Coles, Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, and Richard Louth, Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project
This article shares some practical suggestions on what to read during the summer institute and discusses why and how to read these selections. The authors define different types of reading lists and describe how the readings are handled at their sites. Especially impressive is the "reading circles" approach to summer institute reading.
Lucy Ware, Western Pennsylvania Writing Project
This article describes how the leaders of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project developed a better way to integrate reading into the summer institute. Previously, they had assigned texts and readings based on predetermined beliefs as to what teachers needed to know about theory and practice. They felt that the readings were too top-down and assignment-driven, though, and conflicted with the rich discovery process that characterized other parts of the summer institute.
Their goal was to tie reading assignments directly to teaching demonstrations and allow more choice in the process by setting up "Inquiry Reading Circles." They found that teacher demonstrations got deeper and more inquiry based and that fellows began to read more widely and with clearer purpose than in previous institutes.
During the Summer Institute
Patricia Lambert Stock
This article shows how to turn teacher-consultant presentations into authentic works of scholarship and gives practical ideas on how to coach and structure demonstrations.
Sheridan Blau, South Coast Writing Project (CA)
At this summer institute, future fellows are asked to bring some piece of professional writing they have already begun and wish to refine with the aim toward publication. The author outlines five different forms or genres that go beyond traditional research writing:
- Short articles: an account of the teaching practice they will share at the summer institute
- Position papers: an editorial or opinion piece
- Teaching stories: personal experiences that reveal a lesson about teaching
- Case studies: studies of problem students
- Reflections/meditations/think pieces: thoughtful reflections on issues close to the heart
The different styles or forms add choice and make the summer institute process more meaningful.
This article explores the demonstration as a form of teacher inquiry. Some key concepts:
- Putting inquiry at the heart of the demonstration
- A 3-day pre-institute "boot camp" to help fellows develop their inquiry ideas
- A five-step protocol that invites fellows to respond to demonstrations through five different "lenses."
This article provides valuable information to help improve every aspect of the teaching demo.
After the Summer Institute
Melanie J. Taormina, Western Pennsylvania Writing Project
This article describes how the positive feedback the author received at the summer institute helped her regain her love of writing. She puts in perspective the crucial role personal writing has in the summer institute. Some of the things she "re-learned" about writing:
- Publication as an external validation is not a reason to write.
- Our lives are enriched by the doing, not the publishing.
- Write from the expansion and contraction of the heart.
- Responding to writing is not putting something on trial, nor is it "de-constructing" the writing of others. Instead it is "supportive, nurturing, encouraging."
- Tough, honest feedback is necessary but not when it pushes people into a corner so confining they cannot write.
Beth Halbert, Western Tennessee Writing Project
When the author was asked to lead the summer institute at the last minute, she was not comfortable in her new role. How could it work without the leader who has led it so effectively for the last ten years? What she found out is that the summer institute does not depend on the personality and wisdom of one person. It works because teachers teach teachers. It isn't one voice but a community of voices.
Susan Bennett, Redwood Writing Project (CA)
This article provides a comprehensive list of questions that need to be answered in the summer institute. The questions are divided into three main categories—Demonstrations, Coaching and Responding, and People Problems—and provide a helpful guide or framework for the summer institute. More important, setting up the framework as a series of leading questions instead of a checklist keeps the process from being too pedantic or hierarchical. It provides a shared or common structure for summer institutes, but allows us to answer the questions in our own unique and individual ways. No cookie cutters here!