Thinkin’ about ways to extend Summer Institutes into open public spaces, on and offline

Colleagues of mine from the Philadelphia Writing Project asked me recently if I had suggestions about ways that they might think about extending their Summer Institute (SI) beyond the summer and into spaces, on and offline. The goals were to allow for beyond-the-summer discussions as well as to support others in joining in and participating beyond that particular SI cohort. Below are a set of Whys followed by a list of Hows ideas that I put together for them; sharing them here as a resource for other writing project sites and colleagues across the country.


  • To design for connected learning we must be connected learners ourselves.
  • Because literacy and civic engagement/innovation are key to participation in an ever connected world … and we need to learn what this looks like in these spaces together.


Read and watch open online content There are tons of open journals, openly distributed books, chapters, blogs, videos, research data, etc. online. These resources are available alongside current news and events, popular culture, and robust online communities of educators (bloggers and otherwise); all critical to literacy in this digital age. NWP curates two places where you can get started: Write, Learn, Lead and Educator Innovator.

Use a shared hashtag Hashtags are used on social media to support shared conversations online via a community of others. They are created by and for their communities but as open hashtags, can be used or joined by others (such as #educolor or #techquity). Hashtags can be used as a way to casually share and aggregate; they can also be used to support open online events.

Create or connect with open online events Open online events can be a win-win for all involved: They support educators in thinking about sharing in public online spaces; they create open resources that can be accessed by others; and they create open online content that can be distributed and easily shared.

There are many open online events already happening that you can also to tap into; follow NWP (@writingproject, and Educator Innovator (@innovates_ed, for regular updates. Examples of open online events, include:

  • Host or join a Twitter chat Check out some archives from #educolor Twitter chats to see the range of topics they have engaged and what a chat discussion could look like.
  • Host or join an Annotation event Learn how “annotathons” were created in support of Letters to the Next President 2.0; check out the Marginal Syllabus project for one way a group of educators in Denver are organizing a set of social reading events.
  • Host a “Jam”  Jams are synchronous events connected together taking place in online asynchronous space/s. See the results of a “Task Jams” organized by the Assignments Matters project at the NWP as one example.
  • Do a Hangout Hangouts On Air can be easily created with Google Hangout tool and streamed publicly via Youtube. This is how we run webinars at Educator Innovator. Watch a hangout run by NYCWP TC Paul Allison every Wednesday night called Teachers Teaching Teachers as one example.
  • Stream content live Check out this example of a live stream of a SI guest speaker/conversation at UIWP from 2015. Today’s it’s even easier to live stream — you can do it via Facebook, Twitter, etc. Here’s a how-to from SLAM School.

Write and contribute open content of your own Forums such as NWP Digital Is (soon to be renamed The Current) provide open online spaces for educators to write and publish their own work in a shared community context.  Or start your own blog. Popular ones include Edublogs or WordPress, Tumblr, Typepad, Squarespace, Wix and Blogger. Do a genre study of educational bloggers to understand the genre. Learn how to license work you share with Creative Commons licenses.

Open the walls and make connections Learning from the work of National Parks Service/NWP partnerships as well as Intersections, there are many ways to open the walls of the classroom and our learning environments.

Listen to the kids Letters to the Next President 2.0 is an amazing archive of letters composed by youth about things that mattered most to them in the 2016 election. Youth Voices is a student and teacher design social networking space created and fostered by WP colleagues at the NYCWP and beyond.

Incorporate new frameworks into your conversations Connected Learning: a learning and design approach that sees learning as interest-driven, peer supported and oriented toward powerful outcomes. Web literacy: A framework for entry-level web literacy & 21st Century skills

Put it all into a cycle The Tar River Writing Project a year-long project called Remix, Remake, Curate: Learning with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Tar River Writing Project & The Poetry Project where they connected a set of online readings, webinars, chats, curations and activities (on and offline) into cycles of activities. Want to learn more about how to do all of this? Check out the recent SLAM Series run by NWP colleagues from the NCTE Studies in Literacies and Multimedia Assembly.

Image capture from SLAM School Class 3: Using Facebook Live & Periscope with Dehanza Rogers