CRWP Continues with its Third Annual Invitational Summer Institute

Penny Lew (right) consults over a podcasting project with Liz Brockman.

Monday, June 2oth marked the kick-off of the Chippewa River Writing Project’s third annual Summer Institute on the Mt. Pleasant campus of Central Michigan University.  For the team of nine teacher participants, the opening week has been just the beginning of an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.  Under the mentorship of leadership team members Liz Brockman, Sue Steffel, Penny Lew, and Kathy Kurtze, participants have had the opportunity to take part in intensive workshopping, lesson development, and collaborative writing.  For writers like Sheri Kuchek, the Summer Institute has been a time for both reaffirmation and renewal.

“I love writing and the opportunity to interact with my peers beyond the classroom,” notes Kuchek, who is currently taking graduate courses through CMU’s English program.  “It’s great for my self-esteem to be able to get positive feedback from my peers.  It reaffirms my talents.”

Alongside collaboration, technology continues to be a key component in the Summer Institute’s overall vision. Throughout their time together, participants gain experience with a variety of digital tools they can take back to their classrooms, including wikis, audio podcasting, video streaming, and Google Docs.

Sue Steffel (left) and Rebecca Conway collaborate over a writing project.

“Technology is a challenge, but it’s a valuable one,” notes Kuchek, in considering what it means to be a writer in the 21st century.  “It’s a struggle that opens up so many new avenues we can use with our peers and our students.”

The greatest value for participants, however, is the opportunity for growth—as both instructors and as individuals cultivating a lifelong love of writing.  Alma elementary school teacher Kristen Case sums up the SI experience best when she notes, “Being immersed in the tech has helped me to learn an amazing amount of new tools that I will use in the classroom, and in my own life as well.”

The Summer Institute will culminate in a celebratory luncheon on July 7th, when participants will share selections from their electronic Writer’s Portfolios and join one another in a screening of their digital storytelling projects.  For more information on the SI 2011, check out our wiki at


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