Created in 1977, the Iowa Writing Project (IWP) offers professional growth opportunities for Iowa teachers and advocates exemplary teaching of writing and use of writing for learning in Iowa schools. IWP is managed by a Steering Committee of five members under policies developed by an Advisory Board of representative educators from across the state. Summer institutes/workshops and self-study seminars during the school year are major project instruments.
IWP focuses on Iowa educators, K - college, extending across the state's vision of writing and a consistent approach to the teaching of writing and learning. The Project cooperates with compatible efforts in other states and is an active member of the National Writing Project network.
Teachers join the IWP community through participation in Level I, a three-week summer institute devoted equally to exploring professional insight into uses of writing for learning across the curriculum and the individual's own writing experience. Following their Level I experience, many teachers elect an IWP seminar during the school year (reflective journal-based self-study) and/or a summer Level II Workshop or a Workshop on Writing and Literature. An annual statewide conference is available to all participants as well. Through these institutes, workshops, and conferences the Iowa Writing Project provides: initial writing/learning experiences for a growing mass of Iowa teachers; extended professional growth for teachers who have already participated in the Project; follow-up support for all Project participants; and efforts to influence the contexts in which teachers work. The Iowa Writing Project is widely recognized as an exemplary statewide structure for professional growth and teacher support. It has been cited for its contributions to teaching by the Iowa Board of Education.
Typically, IWP institutes/workshops are effected by proposals developed at the local/district/AEA level and submitted to the IWP Steering Committee. With the Committee's determination that the proposed institute does have sufficient local support and adheres to the intentions and design of the Iowa Writing Project, the Committee recommends to the University of Northern Iowa that the proposal be supported. The necessary contracts are then arranged directly between the proposing agencies and the University of Northern Iowa.
The online component of the IWP has been established to accommodate the needs of teachers and students at the local building level, including those isolated in apathetic or hostile local systems. It will help IWP participants make their students' work, their own work, and the learning contexts they have created for that work, more visible to publics beyond the school and professional community. It will facilitate the reaching out to additional teachers and better support changes in their practice. It will allow for the addition of families of teachers to this growing system, or network, of like-minded professionals, and strengthen the connectedness of these extended professional families across our professional community.
Iowa Writing Project operations are centered at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.