Teachers Teaching Teachers.

The Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP) is a practitioner network, connecting K-university educators—including teachers, principals, professors, parents, and out-of-school-time leaders—to explore literacy, writing, teaching, and learning across grade levels and disciplines.

PhilWP is a site of the National Writing Project (NWP) at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (PennGSE).

Invitational Summer Institute

Since 1986, PhilWP's Invitational Summer Institute (ISI) on Writing and Literacy has supported teachers in developing an inquiry stance on teaching practice.

Building on successes of our 2018 and 2019 ISIs, we integrated sources and strategies from the Library of Congress's Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program to support writing, inquiry, reflection, and justice-oriented action within and across disciplines.

Traditionally, the in-person ISI has provided space and structures for participants to construct meaning together, through talk and writing. We have tried to translate this approach to an online format this summer, using synchronous and asynchronous opportunities to engage. We believe that there’s value in teachers building community and learning with one another, as much now as ever.

This year's ISI is financially supported by a Library of Congress TPS Eastern Region program coordinated by Waynesburg University, PennGSE, and generous PhilWP supporters.


As part of their participation in the ISI, teachers will:

  1. deepen their knowledge of teaching with meaningful texts, including historical primary sources, and their ability to support students’ critical thinking and the co-construction of knowledge toward equitable and socially just ends;

  2. broaden their repertoire of resources and tools to spur writing, reflection, and inquiry, which would include the use of digital tools for both teachers and students, including those from loc.gov, loc.gov/teachers, and chroniclingamerica.loc.gov;

  3. create and reflect on lessons for the classroom that develop students’ critical literacies, particularly with the help of primary sources and promising practices from the ISI; and

  4. develop a literacy leadership community both within and across schools, particularly those in School District of Philadelphia Learning Networks 2 and 11.

Partnership with School District of Philadelphia Learning Networks 2 and 11

Of the 23 teachers who participated in the ISI, eight were from the School District of Philadelphia's (SDP) Learning Network 2 and seven were from Learning Network 11. SDP Learning Networks 2 and 11 are led by Assistant Superintendents and PhilWP TCs Rahshene Davis-Bowie and Amelia Coleman-Brown, respectively. Demands on teachers to link standards-based instruction with high-quality materials is ever-challenging in schools across Philadelphia. We imagine the collaboration with Networks 2 and 11, and particularly a focus on teaching with primary sources, as a powerful way to address this ongoing challenge by linking teachers and administrators within and across our networks, to directly address issues of equity in literacy instruction, and develop teacher leaders who make their practice a site of inquiry.

Some principals and teachers along with assistant superintendents from both Networks attended a one-hour professional development after-school workshop in February on the goals of the ISI. Principals then recruited teachers for the ISI who were interested in working with a community of teachers focused on writing and literacy as well teaching with primary sources. Principals were invited to meet with teachers in breakout groups on the ninth day of the ten-day ISI. Teachers shared plans for the upcoming year, how they wanted to make teacher knowledge visible, and how they wanted to work with their principals to achieve common goals.

Work within and across schools in Learning Networks 2 and 11 is ongoing.

Facilitation Team and Guest Educators

  • Robert Rivera-Amezola, EdD, Elementary Digital Literacies Teacher; PhilWP Scholar 2013-16

  • Barrett Rosser, Middle School English Language Arts Teacher; PhilWP Scholar 2020-21

  • Trey Smith, High School Science, Technology, and Civics Teacher; Library of Congress Teacher in Residence 2015-16; PhilWP TC

  • Diane Waff, EdD, PennGSE Practice Professor; PhilWP Director; PhilWP Scholar 1993-94

  • Judy Buchanan, National Writing Project Deputy Director (retired); PhilWP Scholar 1986-87

  • Susan Browne, EdD, Rowan University Associate Professor; PhilWP Scholar 1999-2000

  • Chris Rogers, PennGSE Doctoral Student; Paul Robeson House and Museum Public Programs Director