Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Indiana Writing Project Summer Institute Comes to the Library

Recently, Bracken Library hosted participants in the Indiana Writing Project -- most of them public school teachers from across the state -- for bibliographic instruction. All are participating in the IWP's Summer Institute.

So, what is the IWP and the Summer Institute? According to the website,, IWP “… is an organization committed to promoting the best possible writing instruction in Indiana's elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools.”

The Summer Institute is a program administered by Dr. Linda K. Hanson, Professor of English. It lasts four weeks during the summer, and it is a time of intense work focusing on writing and the teaching of writing.

When I asked Jenny, one of this year’s participants and a high school English teacher, why she decided to spend her summer taking the Institute, she replied, “I want to find more effective ways to teach writing for my at-risk students.”

Her research interests were on motivation, transactional writing, and finding real audiences where her students can write for real purposes. In searching for these audiences, Jenny explained that one of the biggest realizations was that she found a new audience for her students -- each other.

Students are able to read and comment with each other, students teaching students. This method is reflective of the model used by the Summer Institute of having teachers instruct teachers. Each of the participants came to Bracken Library with specific research interests, such as:
 how to get students to use critical thinking skills
 how to integrate technology
 how to reach the reluctant writers

All of the participants were able to find information using databases like Communication and Mass Media Complete, MLA International Bibliography, and ERIC (EBSCOhost), among others.

In answer to how the experienced helped her, Jenny shared while the technology was a lot for one session, she felt that learning how she could access the resources from home meant that she would spend more time finding additional resources.


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