How the city cultivates its youngest writers

Since 1986, The Philadelphia Writing Project has called Penn GSE home, which works with the city’s teachers and students to advance high-quality writing skills.

As Philadelphia’s most prominent teacher network since 1986, the Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP) has built an enduring legacy of supporting teachers in Philadelphia schools as they use writing to advance learning. In 2017-2018 alone, PhilWP teachers worked with more than 18,000 students in individual classrooms and provided opportunities for young people in an array of out-of-school youth programs. 

Four students hold certificates from Philadelphia Writing Project smiling and standing outdoors
High school students in the Project Write summer program find inspiration for their writing in history and architecture. (Image: Tina Matczak)

For their internships, students in Penn GSE’s Reading/Writ­ing/Literacy degree programs are placed in the classrooms of PhilWP teacher consultants as well as the Kid Writing classrooms so that they gain experi­ence working with professionals who envision reading and writing as connected. 

Penn GSE Professor of Practice Diane Waff is director of PhilWP, which is located at Penn GSE as one of 180 sites of the National Writing Project (NWP). PhilWP’s core work has built a growing network of more than eight hundred teacher consultants in the Greater Philadelphia region who enhance the teaching of writing.

“Teachers join our network and become PhilWP teacher consultants by completing our Invitational Summer Institute on Writing and Literacy, a two-week professional development program for pre-K through 12 teachers across subject areas, says Waff. “Our participants see themselves as people who can take up leadership roles. … At the Summer Institute, teachers come to think critically about how they can use writing to support learning in their school context.” 

“We want you to notice what your students are writing about. How are you using writing to advance learning?” Waff asks. “How are you using it to give your students a creative voice or a way to make a difference in their community? We also look at culturally responsive teaching—how can your teaching benefit from awareness of your students’ cultural backgrounds?”

Read more at Penn GSE.