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OUR MISSION The mission of the Philadelphia Writing Project is to enhance the teaching of writing as a critical tool for learning in Philadelphia schools. Further, our mission is to support and provide high quality professional development based on current literacy research while encouraging inquiry and leadership in and across classrooms and schools.

In this issue… 2

Upcoming Events PhilWP on Facebook, Twitter


Farewell to Kathy Marci Resnick Remembered


Scholastic Contest Scoring Advance Institute at Ethnography Forum


Summer Institute Success Struggles and Strategies


PhilWP Scholar 2010 Summer Institute Fellows Book Review




An Open Letter to My PhilWP Family

Vanessa Brown

Nine years ago on a sunny July afternoon, I sauntered into a small crowded-okay, really crowded-non-descript office at 3440 Market Street on Penn’s campus. I was immediately greeted by the refreshing smile of Miriam Harris, PhilWP’s Administrative Assistant of only a few months. Pecking away on her oversized and outdated PC, she smiled a smile that I have grown to love and expect every time I walk into the PhilWP office. She welcomed me in with an obvious air of caution in her voice that whispered, “you are here for what?” when I introduced myself and indicated that I would be a new director of the site, joining Susan Lytle, PhilWP’s founding director, and replacing Marci Resnick, PhilWP’s K-12 director of almost 7 years. While Miriam knew that changes were coming, she had no idea that everything would move so quickly. Surely the time had not come at that moment. But, indeed it had. Marci was to stay in New York City indefinitely to care for her terminally ill brother-in-law and there was a summer institute, summer payrolls, fall budgets and reports that needed to be tended to and I was the one asked to do it. This proved serendipitous for me, as well. That summer, I was also looking forward to ushering my youngest child off to college; driving one of my sons half way across country to his first postcollege full-time job in Tyler, Texas; and, bidding farewell to room 226 at Germantown high school where I learned to admire some of the greatest teachers with whom I have ever taught…continued on page 7

Upcoming Events

Leadership Meetings Site Development Team | Oct 4 (5:30-8:00pm) Extended Leadership Team | Nov 8 (5:30-8:00pm)

Continuity Programs Literature Circle | Sept 25 (2:00-5:00pm) Struggles and Strategies | Oct 2 | First Saturday each month Family Literacy | Oct 21 (4:00-6:00pm) | Third Thursday each month

Leadership Inquiry Seminar Letters of Interest Due | Oct 8 First Session | Nov 13 | 8:30am-1:30pm

Important Events National Afterschool Matters Practitioner Fellowship Kick Off | Sept 22 Alliance for Young Artists and Writers Awards Launch Event | Sept 23 National Day on Writing | Oct 20 | Your School Celebration of Writing and Literacy | Nov 6 (8:30am-2:00pm) NWP Annual Meeting | Nov 18-20 | Orlando, FL

PhilWP on Twitter, Facebook While online reading this newsletter, check out PhilWP’s new presence on two popular social media sites: Facebook and Twitter. It was probably only a matter of time before PhilWP joined the craze. The web presence team has just begun to tinker with the possibilities. Our goal: connect with the 700 educators that constitute our network and the thousands who make up the National Writing Project and its diverse service areas Find us on Facebook by searching “Philadelphia Writing Project at the University of Pennsylvania.” Follow PhilWP at

> More E-Connections Join PhilWP Techlit Listserve

Receive email updates about what is going on in Philadelphia schools and the Philadelphia Writing Project. E-mail the PhilWP office ( and request to be added as a collaborator.


UPDATE | Summer 2010

MARCI RESNICK GRANT WINNERS 2010 Awardees and Project Goals Teri Ruiz | Organize a garden club for students at her school where children will work with neighbors to plant a tree and grow vegetables Nancy Matlock | Create a study of the settling of the west in the US and use a living “wax museum” as a final project and presentation Hannah Prussin | Develop a butterfly garden to bridge curricular areas and connect reading and writing to science

Farewell to Kathy Schultz This spring, Kathy Shultz announced that her work in education and literacy has provided her with a great new opportunity. Kathy will be leaving Philadelphia to take the position of dean of the School of Education at Mills College in Oakland, California. She will reside in Berkeley where she lived for several years before coming to Philadelphia. Kathy came on board as a new director of PhilWP in 2004 after many years of close relationships with PhilWP TCs, as well as local and national leaders. While at Penn GSE, she became director of the Teacher Education Center and served on several committees within the department. She was promoted to full professor in 2010 and traveled to Lebanon and Indonesia several times to support the rebuilding of educational systems in collaboration with local educators. We wish Kathy the best as she continues the work she has been so diligently dedicated over the course of her career!

Marci Resnick Remembered, Grants Awarded As this spring drew to a close, members of the Philadelphia Writing Project and of the larger Philadelphia community convened to honor the spirit of a dear friend and colleague, Marci Resnick. A former PhilWP director, Marci passed away in 2007. She was also Associate Director of National Programs for the National Writing Project.

Christine Sullivan and Rachel Macy | Establish an after school science club at their school

2009 Awardees and Project Goals Conni Henkel | Used journals and journal writing with second graders Mona Kolsky | Traveled to Turkey this summer and the creation of units of study about Turkey for her students Abby Pelcyger | Supported a community and school partnership for building gardens around the school Sam Reed | Attended a National Association for Media Literacy conference and to continue to develop curriculum using media and literacy for sixth graders Rita Sorrentino | Developed art projects using photography and publishing in collaboration with other teachers in her school Erin Swan | Purchased materials for her classroom and other classrooms for reading and writing workshops

The Marci Resnick Teacher Fund was created to honor her life and work. Each year, up to four teachers receive $500.00 to enhance their teaching practice and their work. An official celebration of Marci’s memory and the awarding of grants took place on Monday, June 7. Awardees from 2009 were invited to share the work they undertook during the past school year. Award winners from 2010 were presented with checks and spoke about their planned projects. Marci’s husband and son were in attendance to present awards and speak about the work that Marci chose to undertake during her time with us.


UPDATE | Summer 2010


Advanced Summer Institute II at Ethnography Forum

PhilWP Judges Student Work Submitted to Art & Writing Contest

As part of the inquiry process, PhilWP's Advanced Summer Institute II class participants presented their research in February at the 31st annual Ethnography in Education research forum hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. The forum is billed as one of the largest gatherings of qualitative researchers in the education field.

Students from Philadelphia and the surrounding region in grades 7-12 submitted entries in the areas of literature and art to The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers Contest sponsored by Scholastic.

TCs Susan Browne, Michelle Bell, Bernadette Cooke-Kearney, Dolores Gmitter, and Ken Hung presented “Teaching With Courage: Repurposing in Spaces of Possibility.” All TCs are encouraged to apply to participate in the Advanced Summer Institute II and engage in systematic and intentional inquiry. Contact the PhilWP office to find out more about the Advanced Summer Institute II.

PhilWP TCs came together in January to score the student papers. Categories included short story, novel, poetry, senior portfolios and personal essays. The Philadelphia Writing Project and PAEP sponsored the Philadelphia regional event. TCs Diane Waff, Teri Hines, and Annette Sample served as coordinators. The Philadelphia regional celebration took place in April on the campus of University of the Arts and Broad and Pine Streets. Students from Masterman, Parkway West, and Central earned gold and silver key recognition.

> Proposals and Registration:

2010 Celebration of Writing and Literacy

PhilWP will host the annual Celebration of Writing and Literacy on Saturday, November 6, from 8:30am to 2:00pm. All are encouraged to participate by proposing an idea for a 50-minute workshop or presentation. Email Miriam at as soon as possible for a copy of the proposal form and to submit your proposal. Registration will open soon.


UPDATE | Summer 2010

Planning a Successful Summer Invitational Institute


Ted Domers

With summer coming to a close, it is an exciting time for PhilWP because it means that our next class of Teacher-Consultants have completed summer institute. This was our 24th group to go through the summer institute, and we were excited to begin our work with the 22 Fellows who were selected for this summer’s institute. Over the past several months, we had been planning to find ways to continue to innovate and upgrade the institute. We pushed ourselves in new directions to continue to make the summer institute and PhilWP as dynamic and current as it possibly can be. Below are three new innovations that we are proud to announce. Jimmy Santiago Baca’s A Place To Stand This is the fifth year we have used a piece of literature as a central component to the Summer Institute. We continue to search for texts that parallel the themes of the institute. For this summer, we decided to search for a memoir that illustrated social justice issues outside of the African American and Caucasian communities. We were very excited when we came across Baca’s memoir. His text describes his childhood in Texas and Arizona, and the struggles and societal impediments created for his family of Mexican descent. This text will provide us with new pathways into our discussions about race, gender, and social class, as well as provide us a rich perspective for exploring a person’s experience and development into becoming literate. Finally, the inquiry into his personal demons will provide an interesting vehicle for exploring inquiry stance and teacher practice. We are very eager to use this text as our literature selection this summer.


Theater of the Oppressed In order to further push our discussions about identity, race, gender, and social class, we have decided to adapt Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed to our work this summer. Boal’s work was designed to put all participants in the theater as both spectators and actors in hopes of bringing different scenarios to life. It is meant to transform our perception of different circumstances by bringing new social and relational connections to the reality we live in. We hope to place participants in new positions to experience a different perspective. By shifting positions as both spectator and actor, we believe we can provide a new medium for a transformative experience for participants. We are entering this new model with great excitement for the meaningful impact it may have our on Fellows as they prepare to reenter the classroom. Writing Marathon Finally, we have also used our planning to identify ways in which we can both engage the Fellows in the work of the institute, while showing them the opportunities that TCs have once they complete the SI1 requirements. To do so, Institute facilitators led fellows on a Writing Marathon through the West Philadelphia area and Penn’s campus. We sought out engaging structures for our Fellows to learn from and were enthusiastic to get outside and do some writing. We cannot become writers without writing, and what better way to stimulate writing then by going outside and doing so. We are grateful to AnnMarie Marranzinifor providing us with background information and guidance in planning this activity and look forward to seeing new fellows in this budding and growing PhilWP continuity program. See page 6 for a list of the fellows.

Struggles and Strategies is gearing up for its third school year after a very successful and energizing year. As a group, we talked about topics such as ways to maintain our classroom integrity in a standardized climate, opportunities to bring arts to the classroom, and we even discussed President Obama’s education speech at the outset of 2009-2010 school year. At every meeting, we had first timers join us, and with every new voice came a fresh and thoughtful perspective. We are looking forward to continuing our momentum into this new school year. We will again meet the first Saturday of every month. Mark your calendars now: 9/4, 10/2, 11/6, 12/11, 1/8, 2/5, 3/5, 4/2, 5/7, 6/4. In addition, we are going to add an additional meeting time each month, so we can have more consistency to build on our collaborative work. We have also decided to add a central text to serve as the catalyst for our discussion. We are going to read a chapter of Sonia Nieto’s What Keeps Teachers Going? in preparation for the first meeting of each month; we will then identify a topic that emerges from that discussion for our next discussion. The final change that we have made is that we are going to add a more purposeful connection to the inquiry stance we are taking. We will take more time to reflect on how the discussions connect to our practice. As TCs and colleagues (we are open to everyone!) become regular attendees, we will be able to frame questions from our practice and develop them over time. We hope to add more continuity between our meetings and provide more systematic structures for our inquiry community to inform each person’s individual practice. Be on the lookout for the Struggles and Strategies group’s presentation at the Ethnography Forum at GSE this coming February. All are welcome at any time, and we hope to see you soon!

UPDATE | Summer 2010

PhilWP Scholar > Ted Domers Congratulations to our newest PhilWP Scholar, Ted Domers. Every year since PhilWP was founded at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, a Philadelphia teacher has taken a leave of absence for professional development or a sabbatical from the classroom to enroll as a full-time graduate student at Penn—most often in a doctoral program (Ed.D.).

Congratulations to the 2010 Summer Institute Fellows Jaime Arafin

Henry C. Lea Elementary

Francis Askew, Jr.

Webster Elementary

Delilah Baines

F.S. Key School

Ted began teaching in Philadelphia in 2005 and has most recently been teaching social studies at Freire Charter School in Center City. He is one of the co-facilitators of the annual PhilWP Summer Invitational Institute and is a cofounder of PhilWP’s Struggles and Struggles teacher group that meets bi-weekly.

Abby Baker

Mastery Charter-Lenfest

Kirby Coughlin

Woodrow Wilson MS

Vincent Deery

The Village at Chester-Upland

Kristin DiPasquo

Nebinger Elementary

Toi Ford

Morrison Elementary

Included below is an introductory message from Ted:

Vania Gulston

Wakisha Charter School

I enter my position as the PhilWP Scholar with mixed emotions. I am honored to join the esteemed list of TCs who have held this position before me, and I feel privileged to continue my studies at Penn GSE. I am extremely excited to begin my work with PhilWP; I have the opportunity to develop new Professional Development workshops, deepen my work with Struggles and Strategies, join the team working on the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and continue to work on the Invitational Summer Institute as I work towards my Ed.D. in Teaching, Learning, and TeacherEducation and my administrative certificate.

Erin Johnson

Khepera Charter School

Still, amidst all of this excitement, I feel a considerable level of ambivalence, as I leave the classroom as a teacher. Since first learning about the mission and values of PhilWP five years ago, I have been motivated and energized by the notion that teachers are the best teachers of teachers. My engagement as a teacher was deepened as I cultivated my practice by taking an active inquiry stance, and my relationship with other PhilWP TCs has inspired my growth in the classroom. As I collaborate and learn from other teachers in Struggles and Strategies and in the Summer Institute, I have felt more and more connected to the notion of teachers teaching teachers. As a result, as I pondered my decision to leave the classroom to become an administrator and instructional leader, I felt conflicted about what this would do to my relationship with other teachers and my ability to truly embody the principles of PhilWP. As I have grappled with this decision, I found myself turning to exactly what my work with PhilWP has taught me. I have taken an inquiry-based approach to my decision. I began to explore my decision in a manner that has been systematic and intentional. I posed complex questions with multiple answers to evaluate this decision for myself and my family. I have done extensive research to learn from others to frame the theory behind my practice. As I reflected, wrote, and conversed, my decision was becoming more challenging to make…continued on page 10



Hillary Linardopoulos Julia de Burgos Elementary Glenza Lowma

Overbrook Elementary

Natalia Mykytiuch

Henry C. Lea Elementary

Lori Odum

George G. Meade School

Nicole Palazzolo

Olney Elementary

Meenoo Rami

Franklin Learning Center

Barbara Scheffler

University City High School

Lorraine Ustaris

Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush

Colleen Wellstein

Columbus Elementary

Ka Xiong

FACTS Charter School

Luke Zeller

Overbrook High School

Book Review

Mike Rose’s Why School?: Reclaiming Education for All of Us Ted Domers In Mike Rose’s newest work, he does not blaze any new trails. He does not introduce any innovative new policies that will solve the current state in our school system, and he does not provide a new pedagogy for teachers to utilize in the classroom. No, this book is not the magic cure to the perils of our education system. So, why Why School? Because he eloquently, logically, and beautifully makes a case for a progressive and humanistic school system that provides students opportunities to make meaning of what they learn through authentic means rather than a standardized test. Rose’s opus blends the tales of his storied career as a teacher and educational researcher with detailed and provocative analysis to what we can learn from these…continued on page 10 UPDATE | Summer 2010

And, so it began. It all seems like a blur at times. The whirlwind I joined on that day ushered me into a frenetic and incredible new world of roles, responsibilities and experiences. And, it has never stopped providing me with new opportunities to make and share new knowledge for myself and others. When I reflect on all that we accomplished that first year and the years since I walked into that office on Market St., I cannot help but give God the glory and honor for such a privilege to have been called to the work of director of the Philadelphia Writing Project during what many call the most tumultuous time of the project’s history and the history of the country. The last 9 years have afforded me lifechanging opportunities to meet and work with hundreds of TCs, numerous PhilWP site leaders, 6 PhilWP Scholars, 2 faculty directors, Susan Lytle and Kathy Schultz, and countless teachers and administrators in schools around Philadelphia since those first days in the summer of 2001. I have come to understand and appreciate the power and energy of the Pennsylvania Writing Project Network and the collective strength that a network of writing project sites has when sites work together. I have had the honor of representing the resiliency of urban teachers and urban writing projects in complex times of school reform by addressing the National Writing Project’s Task Force, its Advisory Board and the General Session of its Annual Meeting. With the help of a team led by 2 incredible PhilWP Scholars, Raquel Esteves Joyce and Diane Santori, Carol Rose, PhilWP’s former Co-Director of Professional Development who were supported by Nancy Striem, former GSE Assistant Dean, GSE professors Heidi Gross and Jeanne Vissa and Meade school principal, Frank Murphy, I coordinated PhilWP’s delivery of two broad-based Comprehensive School Reform initiatives at the William C. Bryant elementary school, a former Penn Partnership school and at the General George G. Meade elementary school, a former Temple Partnership school. I worked with 3 fantastic TCs, Carol Merrill, Bruce Haskin, and Randi Calbazana to launch the first university supported writing centers, including the first elementary school writing center at Bryant Elementary school. With the dynamic assistance of TCs Christina Puntel, Lisa Hantman and Connie Major, we launched the first multischool summer leadership development project with the Temple Partnership Schools. This summer we watched our youth writing camp grow from one group


LIS Teachers Take Action Teri Hines and Regina Hastings Everywhere you turn, LIS (Leadership Inquiry Seminar) alumni continue to explore leadership. Read about Regina Hastings’s experience in the 2010 cohort. I signed up for PhilWP’s Leadership Inquiry Seminar for a number of reasons. First, I needed additional credits to attain my Master’s + 30 salary increase. Second, the course was inexpensive. Third, I wanted to reconnect with the vibe of my Summer Institute experience. Obviously, the first two reasons were merely practical. The last, however, turned out to be that which was most important. Gathering one Saturday a month from January to June* for six hours a day including a working lunch, PhilWP educators with all levels of experience shared their stories about the system. Some of us were retired, some of us still toiled away in the public schools, some of us moved onto charter schools and corporations. What we all shared, though, was a strong commitment to the students whose lives we impacted everyday. Sure, we took moments to complain about the lacks of resources in our buildings, the misguidance of our administrations, and the injustice of standardized tests. But, when that venting was out of the way, the conversation changed to questions: How do we find those necessary resources? How can we work better with our administrators? How can we work collectively to change how students are assessed? I walked into the Leadership Inquiry Seminar expecting just credits toward a salary increase. Yet, those discussions forced me to realize that I had to look at myself differently. I had to recognize that I have leadership qualities and because I do, I have a responsibility to apply those qualities – asking important questions in my building and in my field, having my voice heard, and stepping up to support the administration in ways that assist my principal but maintain the integrity of instruction the students receive. I also was presented with opportunities to provide leadership in PhilWP and this year I co-chair the Celebration of Writing and Literacy on November 6th. Now I more fully realize how my leadership efforts within PhilWP can contribute to the building and sustaining of the site’s mission and work.   Leadership Inquiry Seminar will be offered in 2010-2011 on the second Saturdays of the months from November through May from 8:00am to 1:30pm: Nov 13; Dec 11; Jan 8; Feb 12; March 12; April 9; May 14, (Snow date June 4).

of 9th-12 th graders to 3 groups of students at 3 different locations around the city with 6th through 12th grade students. No reflection, however, on these years would be complete without recalling the joy of reinvisioning PhilWP’s Leadership Teams including the new role of Managing Director held by Teri Hines who with PhilWP’s new faculty director, TC Diane Waff will be supported by 2 new co-directors and 5 new coordinators in an effort to reduce the breadth of individual job assignments critical to the health of the project. Needless to say, I have only shared with you a few examples of why the work with PhilWP has kept me so excited and so assured that you can continue in spite of the ebbs and flows of the unstable educational context that

surrounds us. There are many names and circumstances that are missing from this letter--just too few pages to list them all. But, suffice it to say—I love you, PhilWP. I love everyone of you who has made this great organization what it is and I am ever grateful that you have loved me back for as long as I can remember. Your stamina and resilience have defied all odds. I believe that there is nothing too hard for you. As I say goodbye to this portion of my career, is my prayer that I will continue to be a witness to all you do to improve the teaching of writing, build and sustain teacher leadership and to help a beleaguered school district situate writing at the center of all learning. Keep going, my friends. Vanessa G. Brown K-12 PhilWP Director, 2001-2010

UPDATE | Summer 2010

ADULT EDUCATION: ACHIEVING SUCCESS Tamara Anderson There is a silent epidemic attacking young adults in Philadelphia and other urban educational systems. Only half of the students that enter school graduate with a high school diploma. These numbers translate into high rates of unemployment, staggering levels of poverty, and unwavering levels of desperation. When young adults elect to leave or are pushed out of school their options become limited. In fact, they begin to quickly become a part of a hidden abyss that offers little to no hope or assistance for those between the ages of 17 and 24. Programs like the E3 center and the Center for Writing Literacy provide programs to bridge these individuals to increased levels of literacy, numeracy, career readiness and a GED credential. Unfortunately, these programs have age and capacity limitations. The questions that come to mind immediately are: Will a GED credential change their income status? Can these programs offer a continuous partnership with individuals that will guide them to better employment or post-secondary education? and How can these current adult education programs advocate for generational improvements? Achieving Success is a pilot program created in conjunction with Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Big Picture of Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Youth Network. It was created to service the growing need for progressive adult educational programs to further decrease the accelerated numbers of out of school youth. The School District of Philadelphia currently graduates a little more than half of their high school population. The college drop out rate in Philadelphia reached close to 51% in 2007, and according to the Philadelphia Inquirer only 18% of Philadelphia residents holds a degree. The fluctuating numbers of retention and persistence among adult education students is reflective of the continuing high school drop out rate that plagues many metropolitan areas. GED to College is a solution that will bridge those students that have fallen through the proverbial cracks to a chance at a higher education. These are one of the pathways that can lead to transformational and generational change. Big Picture was co-founded in 1995 by Denis Litky and Elliot Washor in order to incite and effect change in the current broken educational scene. Their motto, “Education is everyone’s business” continues to be the driving force behind the development of over 80 Big Picture Schools across the United States. Big Picture Philadelphia is affiliated with the network and includes EL Centro de Estudiantes, Met East High School, Eastern University Academy and Achieving Success: GED to College. All of these schools boast higher levels of attendance, engagement,


and retention than other institutions dealing with similar populations. Congreso de Latinos Unidos has the following vision statement: “to provide a bilingual and culturally sensitive comprehensive network of services to support and empower residents to create positive solutions to challenges they face daily.” They strive to make systematic changes in education, employment, family support, health and wellness. The numerous programs housed within its walls make for a useful partnership. It allows Achieving Success to provide wrap around services that will assist in eliminating most barriers that may impede a student’s educational, emotional, and social progress. Philadelphia Youth Network has a vision that believes that all young people deserve a opportunity to become contributing members to society. They house two main programs: Work Ready and Project U-Turn. The GED to College pilot was created to provide a meaningful and rigorous pathway to a GED credential and ultimately a post-secondary education. Developing partnerships between local colleges and universities has encouraged this new expected outcome. In the beginning there was little to no connection between project based learning and adult education. This was an opportunity to create something modeled after a successful model like Big Picture. The curriculum is guided by the Ten Big Picture School Distinguishers. They are in the following areas: One student at a time – personalization, Learning in the Real World, Authentic Assessment, School Organization, Advisory Structure, School Culture, Leadership, College Preparation and Professional Development. Achieving Success: GED to College will, •

Provide each student with the necessary skills to re-integrate into the job force

Increase skills in literacy, problem solving and calculation, historical inquiry, and scientific evaluation

Entrepreneurship Training

College Readiness beyond the GED

Career Counseling and Placement

Continuous support for a year after commencement

Family oriented activities (field trips and college excursions)

Internships to promote career literacy

The curriculum was created from a stance of inquiry. It was imperative that the process remained transparent and proactive. From a constructivists stand point, you should honestly evaluate and critique aspects of the curriculum to gauge their effectiveness. This process of

examination remains a focal point to identify areas of improvement and success. A great example is the following. When the program the first began many of the students did not quite understand what would be expected of them. Many of them saw the GED as the end result. They were unsure about the projects and new advisors had just recently been trained in the model. Every project starts with an essential question. The advisor then guides the student through guiding questions that can create a framework of study. Questions encourage critical thought and intellectual stimulation. Many of the students are accustomed to a top a down approach, as opposed to an education that stems from their interests. Soon the first exhibitions were scheduled. The students who were a little unsure, or simply only interested in taking the test became experts in their topic of choice. The first project is called, Who Am I. It was a very introspective journey for many of the students. They used the projects to research the various obstacles that kept them from their high school diploma in the first place. The students begin to transform, and the culture within the classrooms became very similar to that of a family. The hard data to support this lies in the TABE scores. Every student that participated in the first project module exhibited gains ranging in 1-3 months in Math and Reading. The first 4 months of the program had over an 80% attendance rate. The advisors have all of their student’s phone numbers, and confide in them when they feel those barriers trying to keep them from their goals. Now that we are pushing the Learning in the Real World, many of them are actively seeking unpaid internship opportunities in areas connected to their interests. One of the many reasons that students drop out is because they feel school is not relevant, welcoming or engaging. Many students feel disconnected and eventually stop attending. They also leave because of outside barriers like pregnancy, family abuse, homelessness, and low self -image. All of our students still have these internal and external obstacles. Each advisory has a 1 to 10 student to advisor ratio. The small class size allows the clients to receive personalized attention and the learning plans are matched to student’s weaknesses, needs, and strengths. Overall, this kind of engagement is not seen in most adult education programs. Most of the learning is direct instruction, and treats the individual students as if they are empty vessels. Those that have been at the mercy of living life without a high school diploma are full of untapped knowledge. Can their inherent intelligence be matched to skills that will translate into success on the job, standardized exams, and 21st century learning? If we can replicate this model into an E3 center than it may re-engage those disenfranchised populations who continue to check out over and over again.

UPDATE | Summer 2010

> Visit to find out more about the 2010 Annual Meeting

PhilWP work featured on



David Brown is featured in the NWP digital publication Teachers Are the Center of Education: Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age. View it by visiting public/print/resource/3154.


Dina Portnoy and Tanya Maloney write about an innovative example of PhilWP professional development in New Teachers in Urban Contexts: Creating Bridges with Teach For America Teachers. View their reflection by visiting


Lynne Strieb’s new book Inviting Families into the Classroom: Learning from a Life in Teaching is featured on the NWP website. Read about it by visiting books/invitingfamilies. UPDATE | Summer 2010

Continued from Page 6, Book Review

Continued from Page 6, PhilWP Scholar Through this deliberation, I recognized my concerns were the primary reason it was okay to leave the classroom. I needed to embrace my dissonance and allow the uneasy feelings to fuel my studies at GSE, my continued work with PhilWP, and my eventual career in administration. I hope to use this apprehension as a strength to maintain my deep respect for the practice of teachers and the complex nature that learning can have, as I move into a full time student and eventually school administrator. I have found great comfort in the writings that tell me to embrace the undertow and that I must be willing to be disturbed. I hope to create a meaningful change in our schools one day by creating an environment that nurtures teacher inquiry and teacher learning to better the education for all of our students across Philadelphia. I am looking forward to furthering my journey into this inquiry on a more intimate level with the PhilWP community over the next year.

educational experiences. He evaluates the current state of our educational policy and provides glimpses of hope into what has occurred in our nation’s classrooms and what Rose believes should continue to happen. He shares a story of an adaptive and creative young elementary school teacher in Baltimore, as well as the lessons he learned from his work in the remediation program at UCLA to show the power that education has to transform the lives. As I read this book, I constantly found myself thinking, “that policy makes a lot of sense” and “hmm, I wish I describe teacher inquiry with that clarity”. His book is a short and refreshing look at the possibility that still exists in our schools. In Rose’s memoir Lives on the Boundary, he describes how the purpose of the curriculum he experienced was not to “liberate you but to occupy you.” Today, this quip still rings true. Nevertheless, after reading his new book, I was left feeling optimistic, hopeful, and encouraged to continue to fight for a change. If you are looking for a revitalizing read for this summer to re-enter the school year, give Mike Rose’s Why School? a read and may we all reclaim the classroom in the coming classroom.

Philadelphia Writing Project University of Pennsylvania 4201 Spruce Street Building 1921 Philadelphia PA 19104

Phone (215) 898-1919


Fax (215) 573-2109




UPDATE | Summer 2010

PhilWP UPDATE | Vol 22 Issue 2  

The official newsletter of the Philadelphia Writing Project.