About PhilWP

The mission of the Philadelphia Writing Project is to enhance the teaching of writing as a critical tool for learning in all 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.


The Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP), located at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, is a site of the National Writing Project.

PhilWP is a teacher network of over 700 teacher consultants who work in a variety of ways with teachers and other educators to explore literacy, writing, teaching, and learning in their classrooms and schools regardless of grade or discipline. Educators in Philadelphia established PhilWP in 1986. Read more about our history.

PhilWP sponsors a broad array of programs that focus on the teaching of writing and using writing as a critical tool for learning. These programs include summer institutes, summer practicum schools, seminars, workshops, programs for teachers of English language learners, continuing education courses, study groups, teacher research communities and social action forums. PhilWP seeks to create unique and specific programs for all schools partners to ensure we are able to meet their needs. Read more about our programs. 

PhilWP teacher consultants serve on committees and collaborate outside of traditional school time to carry out our mission. The director of the Philadelphia Writing Project is Dr. Diane Waff, practice professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania. Miriam Harris is the administrative assistant. An advisory board also supports our work. Read more about our leadership.

For the past 30 years, PhilWP has partnered with individual public, charter, and parochial schools, school district offices, Pennsylvania Department of Education, IBM, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, National Writing Project, Philadelphia GEAR UP, WomenMatter, Philadelphia Education Fund, and many other organizations to provide professional development to teachers and administrators. Through a special partnership with the Graduate School of Education, PhilWP selects one teacher-consultant each year to serve as the PhilWP Scholar, which is a fully funded and full-time fellowship supported in part by the dean of Penn GSE for a teacher consultant to take two semesters of graduate level courses.  The PhilWP Scholar also serves on the leadership team during this time and supports the site in a number of creative ways. Read more about our impact.

Core Values

The Philadelphia Writing Project is committed to:

  1. Centering writing and literacy in all learning
  2. Teaching writing as a path to educational equity and social justice
  3. Ensuring diversity in all communities of practice
  4. Respecting the culture and linguistic resources of all students and all teachers
  5. Enhancing student learning through inquiry into teaching practices
  6. Serving as leaders in education and as teachers of other teachers
  7. Collaborating and supporting collegiality among educators
  8. Learning across a professional career span

The National Writing Project

The National Writing Project was founded in San Francisco, in 1973. The goals of the National Writing Project are:

  • To improve student writing and learning in kindergarten through university classrooms
  • To extend the uses of writing in all disciplines
  • To provide schools, colleges, and universities with an effective professional development model
  • To identify, celebrate, and enhance the professional role of successful classroom teachers

There are over 200 National Writing Project sites located in each of the fifty states.

The National Writing Project supports the diverse interests and needs of schools and local writing projects through a variety of focused mini-grants, programs, initiatives and networks such as the Urban Sites Network, Rural Sites Network, English Language Learners Network, Teacher Inquiry Communities Network, and the Technology Matters Network.