The Celebration of Writing and Literacy is an annual convening of educators. This year's event was held Saturday, October 14, 2023, at the Penn Museum.

Our annual conference invites educators to explore possibilities for creating brave spaces in classrooms, schools, and communities. One of our goals is to make visible the ways in which brave spaces can foster dialogue, engagement, and civic action. Together, we will cultivate an environment of liberation that will inspire and energize us.


8:15 - 9:00


East Entrance, Penn Museum, 3260 South St (Map; Directions)

Continental Breakfast

Mosaic Hall


9:00 - 9:50

Keynote Session: "Cultivating Genius and Joy in Education through Culturally and Historically Responsive Pedagogies"

Rainey Auditorium

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, Associate Professor, College of Education, University of Illinois Chicago; Author of Cultivating Genius (2020) and Unearthing Joy (2023)

In this keynote, Dr. Gholdy Muhammad offers a unique, culturally, and historically responsive approach to cultivating genius and joy in education. This approach is essential for accelerating the growth of all students and uniquely youth of color, who have been traditionally underserved in learning standards, policies, and school practices. She will present her equity framework, called the HILL Model, to help educators develop students’ histories, identities, literacies, and liberation. The HILL Model consists of five pursuits in teaching and learning:

Participants will learn and understand history and policy and personal and instructional factors that justify the need and purpose for culturally and historically responsive education. Educators will be encouraged and motivated to be more inclusive of their teaching of these five collective pursuits while learning the importance of integrating cultural, racial, linguistic, and historical responsiveness into their learning goals, lesson plans, and the texts they use to teach. Additionally, participants will see sample lesson/unit plans across grade levels, moving theory into action.


10:00 - 10:50


11:00 - 11:50


12:00 - 12:50

Lunch & Plenary Session: "Developing Your 'Talking Game'"

Rainey Auditorium

Matt Kay, Teacher, Science Leadership Academy, School District of Philadelphia; Author of Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom (2018), and We're Gonna Keep on Talking: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Elementary Classroom (2023)

This session encourages teachers to reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses with communication, specifically as it impacts classroom discussions with students. In it, teachers work through strategies to develop communication skills that are too often thought of as fixed, working together to prepare themselves to lead powerful race conversations. We specifically work with how to enter and exit conversations thoughtfully, manage conflict, develop our conversational flexibility and agility, and determine which situations require which of these skills.

1:00 - 1:50


2:00 - 2:50


3:00 - 4:00

Reception and Networking Event

Mosaic Hall

Connect and Share!

Connect with participants and share your thoughts on social media by tagging @PhilWP86, @TIPatPenn, @PennGSE, and @pennmuseum and using the hashtag #CoWL23.

The Philadelphia Writing Project serves as the regional writing affiliate for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The Art & Writing Awards are coordinated by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, which seeks to identify and support exceptional writers and artists. Learn more about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and encourage writers and artists in grades 7-12 to submit their work!

The Philadelphia Writing Project is currently seeking volunteer jurors to participate in the 2024 Awards. Please email if you are interested in serving as an evaluator of the brilliant writing created by local youth!

Congratulations to the 2023 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards honorees! View the list of local winners.

Conference Organizing Committee

Philadelphia Writing Project

Dr. Diane Waff, Dr. Jenn McLaughlin Cahill, Dr. Amy Stornaiuolo, Dr. Dina Portnoy, Barrett Rosser, Kemba Howard, and Trey Smith

Teachers Institute of Philadelphia

Dr. Edward Epstein

Penn GSE Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership

Dr. Latisha Chisholm, Dr. Amenda Goll, and Dr. Michelle Robinson

Penn Museum

Emily Hirshorn and Rorujorona Ferrell