Unlike other Institute workshops that study particular aspects of writing or specific genres, “Writer as Reader” workshops focus on particular texts to assist teachers and faculty in developing new approaches to reading and engaging texts in the classroom. Close and thoughtful examinations of texts prepare students to read more carefully, grasp the meaning in more complex texts, and infer meaning from what they read.

IWT’s “Writer as Reader” workshops model writing practices that also support Common Core standards in all subjects, and invite secondary and college teachers to consider “writing to read” as a central classroom practice, one that shows rather than tells students how writing clarifies the meaning of literary, historical, and nonfiction texts. These techniques are the starting point for each workshop. IWT workshops, however, also invite readers to find their own ways into a text. Working with diverse writing-to-read strategies, workshop participants discover what they bring to the text, what is noticeable in the text and what is inferred, and what questions the text poses.

This year’s workshops focus on putting texts into conversations with other texts, historical events, and digital media. The workshops look at the intersections of fiction and nonfiction, drama and history, and canonical and contemporary texts. Drawing on the IWT faculty’s experience as teachers of writing, history, and literature in diverse schools and colleges, and in Bard’s Language and Thinking Program for first-year students, the November workshops also emphasize the pedagogical value of teaching texts that are unfamiliar to students, prompting them to read closely, critically, and with an open mind.

These 10 concurrent workshops are not intended to be scholarly seminars, although they do offer opportunities for critical reading and discussion of the works presented. Instead, they explore writing strategies that allow students to make both personal and intellectual connections to the texts; support close, imaginative reading; and help readers develop an appreciation for the connections between related texts. The “Writer as Reader” workshops also model writing and reading activities that can focus class discussion, help students engage with difficult material, and emphasize the social character of all learning.

Note: If multiple teachers from a single school are interested in the same workshop, please contact Peg Peoples, Bard College Associate Vice President for Education Initiatives/IWT director (845-758-7432 or peoples@bard.edu) or Erica Kaufman, IWT Director of Faculty and Curriculum Development (845-758-7383 or kaufman@bard.edu) to discuss the possibility of bringing the workshop to your school.


See List of Workshops Offered in November 2016


April 21, 2017 Conference: “The Reflective Educator: Writing and Mindful Learning in the Classroom”

In recent years, “mindfulness” seems to be one of the most prolific and flexible buzzwords, appearing in a vast range of contexts: mindful parenting, mindfulness in the workplace, mindfulness therapy, mindfulness training for Phil Jackson’s New York Knicks, and mindfulness in the classroom. The term was coined in the 1970s by biologist Jon Kabat-Zinn, who defined it as: “The awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Kabat-Zinn’s definition is particularly relevant when considering the context of education. By emphasizing the importance of both being present and paying attention, this description of mindfulness clearly connects to how, as teachers, we often struggle to find relevant, meaningful ways to help (and keep) our students engaged and motivated.

Similarly, social psychologist Ellen Langer specifically addresses the idea of “mindful learning” (or a “mindful approach”) as “the continuous creation of new categories; openness to new information; and an implicit awareness of more than one perspective.” So, what does this kind of mindfulness look like in the classroom? How can we, as educators, help students learn to be attentive to their own learning processes and to the difficulties they might be having with a text, an essay, or a math problem? How can IWT’s writing-based teaching practices help students develop classroom habits of mind that foster confidence, attention, and the ability to sustain ambiguity and failure?

This year’s annual conference aims to explore these connections and the ways in which writing-based teaching and mindful learning can help instill a growth mindset in students. Process writing, one of IWT’s core practices, is an example of how writing can represent an invaluable opportunity for “entertaining new possibilities . . . asking that we become more aware of how our minds are working at a particular time,” as Alfred E. Guy writes. Both mindful learning and process writing encourage students to develop self-reflective habits of mind that enable them to own their own learning. We’ll ask: How can regular in-class writing help to support classroom management and foster self-regulation? For the student who has simply determined “I’m just not good at science,” how can writing provide a way in?

Through experiential workshop sessions and a plenary, this conference will highlight IWT’s writing-based teaching practices and how they help administrators and teachers experience the kinds of teaching that help students learn to work through the roadblocks they encounter—to take individual risks in an effort to develop the habits of mind necessary for active and engaged learning.

Friday, April 21, 2017

8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Early Bird Registration Fee: $300
Regular Registration Fee from March 21 – April 14, 2017:

Please contact the IWT Office (845) 758-7484 for registration. On-line registration coming soon.

Fees include morning coffee, lunch, and anthology of related readings.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds can be given for cancellations made later than a week before the event.


The July weeklong workshops offer teachers an opportunity to develop an understanding of “writing-based teaching,” its theory and practices, and its application in the classroom. Each workshop will focus on a method for teaching different forms of writing–essay, academic paper, creative nonfiction, poetry–or for using writing to teach history, visual texts, or grammar.

The July workshops offer a retreat in which participants learn new writing practices, read diverse texts, and talk with teachers from around the world on the Bard College campus. The luxury of time helps us envision how we might make these new practices our own–how we might tweak the writing prompts, change the readings, figure out ways to accommodate collaborative learning in larger classes, and explore how poetry, for instance, might inspire students from ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

During the workshops, teachers live in single rooms on the Bard campus, eat meals together, and enjoy the beautiful setting and lively atmosphere of Annandale-on-Hudson in the summer. During the course of the week, workshop groups meet for thirteen 90-minute sessions, beginning Sunday evening, July 10, and continuing every day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except Wednesday, when classes end at 1:00 p.m. The week’s workshops will conclude on Friday, July 15, at 4:00 p.m.

Group 1: Teachers as Writers
Recognizing that teachers need time for intellectual stimulation and the exchange of ideas with colleagues from diverse schools, the workshops in this group will provide opportunities for reading, writing, and collaborating. Although the workshops highlight the connection between writing and its numerous classroom applications, the emphasis will be on writing itself. Teachers meet in groups of 12 to 15 for a series of 90- and 120-minute sessions in which they explore their values and concerns as writers and teachers.

Group 2: Writing-based Teaching
These workshops model strategies for applying IWT’s basic writing practices to the teaching of any subject. They allow teachers of all academic subjects to reflect on what it means to teach through writing and how informal writing practices can be woven into class lessons in fields such as history, science, social studies, and literature. As in Group 1, teachers in these workshops will meet in groups of 12 to 15 for a series of 90- and 120-minute sessions in which they will explore the value and use of writing-based teaching practices.Read More

The Lord of the Flies: An Allegorical Tale of Democracy and Survival

Friday, March 10, 2017

Bard College

IWT Curriculum Conversations foster innovative approaches to teaching and reading texts that contribute to our contemporary sense of an evolving self. Using writing-to- learn strategies, the day’s workshops focus on a rigorous reading of the text through the lens of contemporary and historical nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

William Golding’s tale of schoolboys cast away on a Pacific island after a nuclear attack has inspired dystopias as disparate as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Ender’s Game, and Lost. Since the 1954 publication of The Lord of the Flies, this provocative story of children who, as Joyce Carol Oates put it, “replicate the worst of their elders’ heritage of ignorance, violence, and warfare” illustrates how quickly civility can revert to bloodthirsty savagery. The Lord of the Flies outlines the cruelties even “innocent” children will inflict when fear reigns. As one boy says: “Which is better—to have rules and agree, or to hunt and kill?” Such questions have spawned an industry of young-adult morality tales where child soldiers, child assassins, and child saviors battle it out for the survival of democracy—and of kindness, mercy, and love.

Why are such dark stories popular with young adults? How do they reflect the current views on politics, the economy, and the environment? What does The Lord of the Flies teach us about the roles young people can play in combating chaos, tyranny, and paranoia? This Curriculum Conversation will address these questions as we explore and grapple with a text that has engaged readers for generations.

Participants are asked to read The Lord of the Flies, Penguin Publishing Group Centenary Edition, before coming to the workshop.

Fee: $350 for tuition, morning coffee, lunch, and materials. The early-bird workshop fee is $300; the deadline for early registration is February 10, 2017. Please contact the IWT office at (845) 758-7484 to register. On-line registration coming soon.

IWT encourages teachers from the same school to participate by offering a 10 percent discount to schools sending a team of three or more teachers to any of the workshops.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds can be given for cancellations made later than a week before the event.

All workshops take place at Bard College on Friday, March 10, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Check-in is from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m.