UM-Flint to Host Writing Institute for Teachers Statewide

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UM-Flint Associate Professor of Education Mary Jo Finney
UM-Flint Associate Professor of Education Mary Jo Finney

The University of Michigan-Flint is hosting a two-week institute this summer designed to cultivate the writing and learning skills of teachers and their students across Michigan.

The Oakland Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute is a partnership between the university and Oakland Schools Intermediate School District. It is for teachers across the state, ranging from pre-kindergarten through college.

UM-Flint became the official university partner in the Oakland Writing Project this academic year.

The Oakland Writing Project is an affiliate of the National Writing Project, which provides professional development and support for teachers across the United States.

The workshops will help teachers develop confidence and knowledge for how to incorporate writing into their teaching regardless of topic or field of study, said UM-Flint associate professor of education Mary Jo Finney, who is leading the university's contributions to the Oakland Writing Project.

The summer institute gives teachers a lasting support network with their professional peers.

"The networking between teachers and the support between the teachers is incredible and that will lift up the writing prowess of students across Michigan," Finney said. "We need to make everyone a writer. Writing is a thinking event. It is about the livelihood of our country. It is the ability to express yourself and to think coherently and critically. Those skills are part of what engaged, civically-minded citizens need to thrive."

The Oakland Writing Project will host between 15 to 20 teachers from a range of schools and backgrounds during the summer institute, which will be held July 24 through August 4 on weekdays.

There is no cost for participants. In fact, they receive a stipend from the National Writing Project.

The event is meant to support teachers with a range of experience, including those who do not consider themselves writers. All participants will be able to explore an idea they have for their classroom and to design a project to implement this idea next fall. Several graduates from previous summer institutes will speak with participants at this year's event.

Susan Wilson-Golab, site director of the Oakland Writing Project, lauded Finney as "an engaged, visionary partner", and said working with UM-Flint will create extensive opportunities to train more teachers.

The partnership extends far beyond the summer institute, as it will lead to even more professional development initiatives for teachers across Michigan. This will further boost literacy statewide, Finney said.

The affiliation with the National Writing Project will help recruit more faculty to UM-Flint, and boost research on campus, she said. This includes seed money for research and professional networking.

"It will be a draw for both our teacher candidates and our faculty. The affiliation encourages our faculty to do research that is connected to writing. This lifts the knowledge base around writing across content areas and how learning and teaching best takes place."

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