The Partnership for Inquiry Learning provides ongoing and in-depth professional development to teachers in grades Pre-K through 8, with emphasis on inquiry-based, student-centered workshop teaching in reading, writing, math, and early childhood education.

We help teachers hone their content knowledge, classroom strategies, and evolving theoretical understandings of how children learn. We are not a short-term program or canned curriculum script. Rather, we work side-by-side with educators to make sense of existing curriculum tools—helping teachers apply these tools in meaningful ways in their own inquiry-based workshops.

The foundation of our work is a visiting scholars series that brings the nation’s most respected education experts to our community, helping to bridge the gaps between theory and practice. In each specific content area, our scholars help teachers foster efficacy above and beyond a checklist of skills. Teachers spend 6-20 full hours in conversation with our guest scholars at each session and develop a relationship with scholars–and other participating educators–over time. Teachers consistently identify this as one of their favorite outcomes of PD with us: building a diverse, nationwide professional community in which they feel valued and empowered.

Our Philosophy

Effective teaching is similar across disciplines. It includes a combination of whole class mini-lessons, time for independent work, conferring one-on-one with students, and intentional sharing that highlights important discoveries. The work is inquiry-based—teaching students how to think through an overarching question, problem or project rather than simply regurgitate rote facts and procedures—and requires teachers to embrace a developmental approach to education that values students’ existing knowledge and understanding of the world.

In short, workshop teaching is authentic, with students tackling questions and activities that resemble the work of professionals in the field being studied. In this way, workshop teaching best prepares students for a lifetime of academic, workplace, and personal success.

Because many educators in the Indiana Partnership for Young Writers community have participated in our programs for 15+ years, we know this is valuable training that teachers carry with them throughout their careers.

Though our program began as a short-term pilot project serving a small cohort of teachers in three schools, we have demonstrated a need and demand for more far-reaching impact. In fact, we’ve served more than 1,700 teachers and 150 undergraduate teacher-interns from 177 schools since our inception in 1999.

Founded in 1999, at a time when policy makers were turning away from urban public schools, advocating standardized instruction, focusing language arts instruction solely on reading, and defining professional development—where it existed—as a trip to a large conference to learn a single curriculum tool, the Indiana Partnership for Young Writers forged a very different path. We invested the majority of our resources into Indianapolis Public Schools, helping teachers tailor instruction in a writing workshop to each individual child. We focused on instruction in the writing process, a subject that had never before existed in Indiana as a stand-alone content area in elementary or middle schools), while continuing to uphold the importance of publication rituals and written products. We supported teachers inside of their classrooms, demonstrating excellent teaching, connecting teachers to nationally renowned scholars and mentors, and challenging teachers to continually read, contemplate, debate and synthesize research published by leading scholars in literacy education.

At the demand of teachers and administrators, we have expanded our professional development model to include other content areas. Our pedagogical beliefs remain consistent, whether teaching writing workshop, reading workshop, math workshop or early childhood education.

The Indiana Partnership for Young Writers was established with funds from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust as a two-year pilot project led by Orchard School. We have evolved into a nationally recognized program within the Butler University College of Education with offices inside the IPS Butler Lab School. We continue to serve Indianapolis Public Schools and IUPUI teacher-interns through a grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.


director and workshop coach
B.S.E., Elementary Education, Lesley College
M.S., Language Education, Indiana University
Ph. D., Language Education, Indiana University

Susan Adamson has served as director of the Indiana Partnership for Young Writers (IPYW) since 2002. She is also a faculty member in the Butler University College of Education and formerly taught in the School of Education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). With IUPUI colleague Dr. Beth Berghoff, Susan co-developed an evidence-based assessment tool called the “IPYW Narrative Writing Continuum” to track student writing achievement over time. She is a contributing author to Getting Beyond ‘I Like the Book’: Creating Spaces for Critical Literacy in K-6 Classrooms with Vivian Vasquez and others.

True to the tenets of writing workshop, Susan is passionate about publishing student writing. She edited and published Touching Water, Coming to Light, Moving Earth and Blazing the Real, four anthologies featuring text by more than 800 young authors.

Susan has presented at the National Reading Conference and conferences hosted by the National Council of Teachers of English, International Reading Association and Indiana Teachers of Writing.

Before moving to Indiana with her husband and two sons, Susan was an elementary teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


assistant director and workshop coach
B.S., Education, Butler University
M.A., Educational Politics and Policy, and M.Ed., Educational Leadership, Columbia University Teachers College
Ph.D. candidate, Educational Policy and Math Education, Indiana University

Courtney Flessner joined the Partnership as assistant director in 2020, having previously been involved as a teacher in the Partnership’s literacy leadership group and later a coach and co-facilitator of the math leadership group. Her formal education includes an undergraduate degree from Butler University, and two master’s degrees from Columbia University Teachers College in New York City. Courtney is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University with specializations in educational policy and math education.

In eleven years of teaching, Courtney taught every grade (1-8). She’s been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, instructional coach (in reading, writing, and mathematics), and adjunct professor. Courtney is one of the most sought after math consultants in Indiana, bringing significant insight into current educational policies while also supporting teachers in developing meaningful instruction for every student.

reading/writing coach
Katherine is author of The Journey is EverythingHidden Gems, and Writing a Life, as well as co-author of For a Better World. 

math coach

reading/writing/early childhood coach
Matt is author of Engaging Young Writers, co-author of I am Reading, Already Ready, and Projecting Possibilities for Writers, and co-editor of the essay collection The Teacher You Want to Be.

reading/writing coach
Isoke is owner of All Write Literacy Consultants, working closely with schools throughout New York City and across the nation. She was a founding member of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University.

Julie is a professional writer in Indianapolis specializing in memoir and essay. Her work has appeared in The Same, Gravel, Cleaning Up Glitter, and on National Public Radio’s This I Believe segment on WFYI-FM Indianapolis.

reading/writing coach
Mary has been working with readers and writers for over 20 years as a classroom teacher, reading teacher, and literacy staff development consultant. She moved to Michigan for the desirable winter weather conditions and currently teaches Kindergarten in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Recent Visiting Scholars

A former first-grade teacher in Brooklyn, NY, Kathy worked closely with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. She is c0-author of I am Reading with Matt Glover, and author of Growing Readers, Reading for Real.

Ralph is a prolific author of books for children as well as professional texts for teachers. He writes picture books, chapter books, and poetry for children, including The Sandman, Twilight Comes Twice, Marshfield Dreams, Spider Boy, Also Known as Rohan Powi, A Writer’s Notebook, Poetry Matters, and A Writing Kind of Day. Professional texts include Joy Write, Making Nonfiction from Scratch, Boy Writers, and What a Writer Needs.

A former NCTE Outstanding Educator in the English Language Arts, Heidi is a specialist in inquiry-based learning across the curriculum. She is author of Learning for Real, co-author of Looking Closely and Listening Carefully, and a contributing writer for The Teacher You Want to Be.

Affectionately known as “the reading guy,” Frank is the author of professional texts including Classroom Reading Assessment, Reading Workshop 2.0, Lessons in Comprehension, and Interactive Comprehension Strategies. He is also author of the Looking Closely series of picture books featuring his nature photography.

Formerly a staff developer at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and editor of NCTE’s Primary Voices, Katie is also author of In Pictures and in Words, Study Driven, About the Authors, What You Already Know by Heart, and co-author of The Writing Workshop and Already Ready, among other books.


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