2020 Mark Twain Summer Institute for Teachers


The Center for Mark Twain Studies collaborating the Elmira College Office of Continuing Education & Graduate Studies, Teacher Education Department and the Greater Southern Tier Teacher Center to offer the 2020 Summer Institute for Teachers on Tuesday, July 14 and Wednesday, July 15.  Due to the challenges, both physical and financial, stemming from the ongoing pandemic, the Mark Twain Summer Institute will be held online and will be offered at no expense to teachers.

The theme this year is “The New Normal: The Past Speaking to Our Student’s Present”

About the 2020 Institute

Before any book or story appears in print—traditionally, digitally, audial—the author exists—breathes, lives, experiences, witnesses life all round. Every author takes in life—recording, listening, jotting notes, even actively participating in it—nothing is lost; nothing is not appreciated. Authors’ letters, journals, notes, for example, lend insight into their world and its times: social, cultural, political, and yes, even moments in life when health crises affect them and the time around them. From the Greeks to the present, authors have used health crises to their audience—present and future—to identify with and better understand how to make meaning of and from their “here and now.”

Mark Twain at Quarry Farm

Mark Twain is no exception. Health issues and challenges followed Mark Twain and his family, as well as America during Twain’s lifetime.

This year’s Institute seeks to enable students to understand that what they have been experiencing, feeling, and fearing during COVID-19 is not singular, a “thing” that makes them different and alone. Health crises and issues from those arising during the Cvil War all the way to the present work their way into the fiction and nonfiction of our authors. Aligned with the current pandemic, the Institute will explore the killing of Mr. George Floyd and the ensuing massive protests in all 50 states – protests that have included so many of our students while the pandemic rages on.

Using excerpts from Mark Twain’s letters, journals, notes, interviews, autobiography, along with excerpts from Mrs. Mark Twain, we will align these primary sources along with primary resources from media, newspapers, and personal narratives on COVID-19 and Mr. Floyd’s death and protests from around the country, focusing especially on New York.

The instructional aim here is not only to illustrate how Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens confronted and dealt with these challenges but also to examine and explore with our students how we as a nation had and are continuing to confront and deal with such challenges—from the illness or virus itself, to how day-to-day living and interacting and once-taken-for-granted routines and assumptions can suddenly, without warning not only change but potentially dissolve before our eyes.

In addition, teachers will work on and create several Interactive Student Activities (from elementary to high school) which they can take directly into their classrooms and on which they can build additional instructional lessons and activities, as well as scaffold other texts, both fiction and nonfiction.

Meet Our Faculty

Registration Information

Registration form can be found HERE.

Teachers can fill out and mail the registration form or provide your registration information to Nina Skinner, CMTS’ administrative assistant, at [email protected] or (607-735-1941).

A few notes about registration for the 2020 Mark Twain Summer Teachers Institute:

  • Due to the financial challenges presented by the current pandemic, the Center for Mark Twain Studies is offering the 2020 Summer Institute at no charge to teachers.
  • In lieu of payment, teachers may consider becoming a member of the Center of Mark Twain Studies. Donations will be gratefully accepted at MarkTwainStudies.org.
  • The maximum capacity of the 2020 Summer Institute is 100 attendees. Registration acceptance will be determined on a “first come-first serve” basis.
  • An organizational email will be sent to all participants about logging on for the first day of classes.

Summer Institute Schedule

Tuesday, July 14

9:00-9:15  Welcome and opening introductions by Jocelyn Chadwick and Matt Seybold

9:15-9:25  Description of format and how each session will work

  • Ability to revisit and reflect on the session later in the day or evening
  • Role of Curator for Q&A
  • Breakout rooms with moderators
  • Sharing out

9:25-9:30  Brief overview of the scope and aims for today’s sessions and using the shared screen

9:30-9:35  Brief overview of sustained and innovative resources and access after the 2020 Summer Teachers Institute

9:35-10:00  Scaffolding Texts: Exemplars for Elementary, Middle School and High School

10:00-10:20  Break

10:20-10:40 Breakout sessions

10:40-11:00  Report out

11:00-11:15  Break

11:15-12:00  Q&A and discussion

Afternoon Teachers are encouraged to explore the available resources and submit questions for the next day

Wednesday, July 15

9:00-9:15  Review of yesterday’s work and queries that may have developed over night on reflection of the day

9:15-9:30  Overview of the day’s aims and using the shared screen

9:35-10:00  Scaffolding Texts: Exemplars for Elementary, Middle School and High School

10:00-10:20  Break

10:20-10:40  Breakout Session

10:40-11:00  Report Out

11:00-11:15  Break

11:15-12:00  Review of online resources and interactive activities

12:00-12:30 Professional Development Reflection

12:30-3:00 Teachers are encouraged to ask Jocelyn Chadwick and Matt Seybold direct questions via email/text