SPI Summer Institute Focuses on Ways to Take Student Voices Public
Published in Inside - Volume XVII, No. 1
TC’s Student Press Initiative (SPI) held its annual Summer Institute in early July, providing more than 70 educators with an intensive, four-day clinic in how to implement SPI’s project-based curricular model in which students publish and publicly read from or perform their own work.
One part of the event focused on traditional publication, with SPI co-founders Erick Gordon (now Director of the New York City Writing Project) and Kerry McKibbin outlining SPI’s mission and core process. Teachers from around the city who have implemented the SPI model in their classrooms also described that process, while Ernest Morrell, Professor of English Education and Director of TC’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education, explored authentic research students can perform to spark writing projects, such as conducting oral histories with community elders or interviewing residents about a community concern and outlining a course of action.
Sheridan Blau, TC Distinguished Senior Lecturer in English Education, discussed alternatives to the traditional five-paragraph student literary essay. And Ruth Vinz, Morse Professor of English Education, suggested inquiry topics of particular relevance to students, such as the relevance to society of practices such as tattooing, perfumes and piercing.
Others focused on-non print approaches to take student voices public. Peter Aguero, of the non-profit organization The Moth led a workshop on oral story-telling. TC education doctoral student Nick Sousanis, co-founder and former editor in chief of thedretroiter.com (an arts Web and blog site focused on Detroit), spoke on both the reading and writing of comic books. And Ryan Goble, founder of the curriculum development start-up MindBlue and a former TC doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Studies, discussed multi-modal learning and using different forms of media in teaching writing.
Participants in the workshop receive a full year of follow-up and online mentoring from SPI online coaches and moderators.