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Wyoming Writing Project|Department of English

Invitational Summer Institute Description

What is an ISI? Even though six graduate credit hours are awarded, the Invitational Summer Institute (ISI) is far more than a summer school course at the University of Wyoming's Laramie campus. Participants enter as "Writing Fellows" and emerge as "Teacher Consultants." This means they are qualified to develop and lead grant-funded professional development activities in their building, their district or their region of the state. Of equal significance, the ISI also prepares TCs to develop and lead the writing project itself. They become Co-Directors, Program Managers, ISI Facilitators, and Technical Liaisons and fill other positions that are vital to every local site within the National Writing Project. Perhaps best of all, thanks to our continued funding from the National Writing Project, the WWP offers Graduate Fellowships and stipends that cover tuition, housing, and other expenses. This makes participating in the ISI as cost free as possible.

We could go on and on about the ISI's unique professional development opportunities. However, the best descriptions usually come from "someone who has been there." Here are some reflections from one of our own Writing Fellows.

Flying the Friendly Skies of the ISI

Had enough of "coach class" professional development experiences? The Wyoming Writing Project (WWP) is a growing community of educators from all disciplines and grade levels who recognize the importance of writing instruction for all learners (including themselves). Each year the WWP sponsors an Invitational Summer Institute (ISI), a "first class" opportunity for Wyoming teachers to reinforce and extend their understanding of writing as a means of boosting student literacy. Fellowships are offered to applicants who are willing to explore ways to use writing to strengthen their teaching and student achievement in collaboration with other forward thinking teachers.

Participants in the institute focus on development in three strategic areas:

  • teacher as writer
  • teacher as researcher
  • teacher as leader  

Teacher as Writer
Whether you write for publication or "just write for the job" or simply record your thoughts in a journal for personal reflection, the ISI will offer you a space to grow as a writer. You'll be among peers who are at various levels of writing skills and experience, colleagues who will support, encourage, and inspire you to put pen to paper. The ISI will even provide all the ink you'll need to examine your own thoughts and feelings and to exchange ideas in ways that will enlarge your empathy for student writers, expand your personal catalog of writing skills, and provide you with new instructional tools for your classroom.

Teacher as Researcher
Every good teacher is a researcher.  She participates in an ongoing quest for more effective means of reaching learners. He continuously reflects on "what's working" and "what isn't." A Wyoming Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute offers teachers the guidance needed to be more intentional and more effectual at investigating the "burning questions" they have about the value of the strategies and methods they are using in the classroom.   Each participant is given the opportunity to present a project that explores an instructional practice he or she is using or contemplating using. The response of other ISI fellows becomes an invaluable resource for enhancing the inquiry and keeping it moving forward.

Teacher as Leader
The Wyoming Writing Project recognizes and celebrates the expertise of classroom teachers. WWP fellows become part of a network of teacher-consultants upon completing an ISIeffective teachers teaching other teachers who want to be more effective. Some WWP fellows assume leadership positions in the WWP or even the National Writing Project (NWP). Others make themselves available for regional workshops in Wyoming. Still others share their knowledge and experience in their home districts, buildings, or classrooms. 

If you're looking for a first class ticket to personal and professional development as an educator, you can look further, but you won't find a better flight for a better fare than you'll get at a WWP Invitational Summer Institute. 

-Mick Wiest
English/Douglas High School
ISI Writing Fellow


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