Summer Institutes

Every year, NeWP hosts summer institutes for Nebraska educators.

2024 Institutes

Application Deadline Extended!

We are now accepting rolling applications! Limited seats are still available, so if you are interested in signing up for the course, please submit your application as soon as possible!

Hybrid Summer Institute  |  June 3 - 21

Hybrid Advanced Institute  |  June 3 - 19

Application Information

2024 Hybrid Summer Institute

June 3 - June 21, 2024
9:00 am - 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday
70 hours (6 credit hours for the price of 3), either in-person or online

Nebraska Writing Project’s premiere program, the Summer Institute is open to teachers of all disciplines and grade levels. The 2024 Summer Institute redesigns the National Writing Project model as a hybrid experience to allow either in-person and distance access. This graduate-level course focuses on rejuvenating participants' own love of writing, inspiring collaborative inquiry with other teachers, and developing participants' own teaching practices. Participants may also qualify for tuition remission for 3 credit hours, reducing the cost of 6 graduate credit hours to only 3 in English or Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education.

For some years, scholarships may be available. Please contact Rachael Shah for more information!

Application Information


Stacey WaiteStacey Waite, Associate Professor, UNL Department of English

Jillian HarpsterJillian Harpster, Assistant Professor of Practice, UNL Teaching Learning and Teacher Education

Melissa LegateMelissa Legate, Pierce Jr./Sr. High School

Summer Institute Frequently Asked Questions What is the Summer Institute?

You are enrolling in a class, but you are also joining a community–the Nebraska Writing Project, a vibrant network of educators dedicated to the teaching of writing across grade levels and content areas. The Nebraska Writing Project offers a variety of programs, workshops, and awards, for teachers, students, and community members, but the Summer Institute is our signature program. We follow the summer institute model developed by the National Writing Project in the late 1970’s, now offered by over 150 writing project sites across the country and validated by many research studies as an impactful model of professional development. The model is focused on developing teachers as writers, facilitating inquiry, and inviting teachers to teach other teachers. Rather than a one-way transfer of knowledge, we center collaborative inquiry and practice, and therefore the class is always co-facilitated by an English faculty member, an Education faculty member, and a local teacher.

What does it mean that the class is hybrid?

You can attend in-person on UNL’s City Campus, live via Zoom, or a mixture of the two.

What does the work of the SI look like? What kind of work will I do?
  1. You’ll write! One goal of the Summer Institute is nurturing teachers’ own writing practice, as we believe the best teachers of writing are writers themselves. You’ll have the opportunity to practice writing for your own meaningful purposes, and you will be placed in a supportive writing group.
  2. You’ll participate in shared inquiry by reading and discussing. The form of this shifts year-by-year, but often, there is a shared book that the whole institute reads and discusses, in addition to smaller inquiry groups shaped by participant interest.
  3. You’ll facilitate, as each participant develops an EQUIP, an interactive workshop that invites peers to engage in a problem, issue, or approach to teaching writing. You are not expected to arrive as an expert in your EQUIP topic–often teachers identify an area in which they want to grow, and you will receive individualized coaching from a facilitator as you develop your workshop.
Is this only 6 grad credits in English? Do I have to enroll in a specific graduate program to take the class?

The Summer Institute is cross-listed with the TLTE (Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education), and you can receive either English credit or TLTE credit. To take the class, you need to apply to the university, but you do not need to choose a particular academic program. If you do choose a particular related program in the future, these credits can often by applied toward that program.

Will these credits count toward my academic program at UNL? Will it count toward my program at a different university?

The summer institute is part of a variety of UNL programs, such as the Certificate in Teaching Writing, the MA in English, the online MA in Teaching Learning and Teacher Education, and more. Teachers have also successfully transferred their summer institute credits into a variety of programs at other universities. If you have questions about transferring, we recommend contacting your particular program to verify that they will accept these credits.

How much does this class cost?

Graduate tuition at UNL is $353.00 per credit hour. The Summer Institute is 6 graduate credits, but is the same cost as 3 graduate credits, making the class $1059.00 plus fees. Depending on if you take other courses during summer, your total fee cost may differ. The fees for this course are estimated to be approximately $400.00, but may be higher if you take additional courses at UNL during the summer session. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions!

Is this class only open to English/ELA teachers?

No, the Nebraska Writing Project Summer Institute is for teachers of all grade levels K-16 and all content areas. In the past, we’ve had everyone from high school math teachers to first grade elementary teachers participate and do exciting work within the institute. Teachers have an opportunity to focus their major project on an approach to teaching writing that fits their particular context, and they also benefit from exchanging ideas across areas and levels in our group activities and discussions.

Is this class for published writers?

Definitely not! We welcome teachers who have any kind of relationship with writing, and our goal is not professional publication. One of our beliefs is that all teachers and students can see themselves as writers–and something powerful happens when they do.

After I apply, what should I expect? What will the phone call be like?

You will have a 15-20 minute phone conversation with one of this year’s facilitators. They will share additional information about the summer institute and the Nebraska Writing Project, ask you a few questions about your interest in the institute and your classroom, and then give you a chance to ask any questions you have.

How do I find out more about the NeWP?

You are welcome to explore our website, subscribe to our newsletter, attend any events that are open to the broader community, and/or reach out to the director, Rachael Shah (

2024 Hybrid Advanced Institute

June 3 - 19, 2024
9:00 am - 12:00 pm, Monday through Friday
45 hours (3 credit hours), either in-person or online

As teachers, we help students become comfortable with the discomfort of learning, so that they can engage new perspectives, gain experience discussing complex issues, and grow in their capacity as thinkers and writers. This work has become more difficult in a cultural moment saturated with fear. Fear drives book bans and curriculum censorship, with claims that such acts protect students from difficult ideas or information. Fear also impacts teachers, who may anticipate consequences for conversing with students about the many difficult issues threaded through literature and our students’ writing and lives--race, gender identity, suicide, poverty. Fear also prevents possibilities for dialogue and connection. In this hybrid Advanced Institute, we will come together to explore strategies for teaching difficult conversations in a divisive political moment and for communicating the value of this work to the public. Because of the additional labor this requires of educators, we will also consider how we can support ourselves, our students, and one another in this challenging time.

Application Information


Shari StenbergShari Stenberg, UNL Professor of English/Women’s and Gender Studies, College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Fellow and Adele Hall Chair of English

Jennifer LongJennifer Long, Gretna High School

Application Information

Early Application Deadline: November 13, 2023
Final Application Deadline: March 6, 2024 Rolling applications open! Apply as soon as possible to secure your seat!

To apply, please send a 1-page letter of application to Nebraska Writing Project Director, Dr. Rachael Shah ( that helps us get to know you and your interest in the institute.

Possible questions to address in the Summer Institute letter include:

  • Who are you as a teacher? (For example, how did you come to teaching? What is your favorite part of teaching? What kind of classroom atmosphere do you try to create? Where do you find your teaching inspiration and community?)
  • What is your current idea about the purpose of writing in your classroom? (For example, why are students being asked to write and what do students gain from the process of writing? What outcomes are you as a teacher looking for?)
  • What does the practice of writing look like in your classroom? (For example, what are some of the writing assignments you give? How do students engage with and feel about writing in your classroom? What writing routines or practices do you lead students in?)
  • This class will help you develop your passions and goals as a writer in a supportive environment, and we welcome people with any level of experience with writing. What's your relationship with writing like? What do you write in your job, academic, or personal life right now, or in the past? (For example, do you journal, write lesson plans, short stories, etc.?)
  • What are you looking for from this class and the community of writers and teachers you would be joining? (For example, where are you “at” in teaching–what challenges and successes are going on for you right now? What are you looking to take away from this institute? What areas are you hoping to learn about from others in institute? What might you do with what you will learn?)
  • Provide name of school and district, grade level and classes taught, complete addresses, phone number, and the best email address to reach you (including during the summer).

Possible questions to address in the Advanced Institute letter include:

  • What has been your previous involvement with the National Writing Project and/or the Nebraska Writing Project?
  • What draws you to this year's Advanced Institute? (For example, how does the topic resonate with your current teaching experience? What motivates your application?)
  • What are you looking for from this class and the community of writers and teachers you would be joining? (For example, what are you looking to take away? What experiences or questions about the topic might you bring to the table? What might you do with what you will learn?)
  • Provide name of school and district, grade level and classes taught, complete addresses, phone number, and the best email address to reach you (including during the summer).

The second step of the application process is a short phone conversation (15-20 minutes) with an institute facilitator to help us get to know you, answer your questions, and inform our institute planning.

If you have questions about the application process, feel free to contact Rachael Shah at