Structured Word Inquiry Institute

Join educators from the Bay Area and beyond for engaging, practical, and active workshops that enable you to teach students how to read and spell through a structured inquiry approach.


What is Structured Word Inquiry?

 At its heart, SWI is guided by two principles: that the primary function of English spelling is to represent meaning through structure and that the conventions of English spelling are well ordered and reliable…”

– Nueva Journal [2015]


The Structured Word Inquiry Institute is led by Pete Bowers, PhD, founder of the WordWorks Literacy Centre in Ontario, Canada.

While Pete leads the workshop, Rebecca Loveless, Nueva's SWI Coach, is often a co-presenter. Rebecca and additional Nueva teachers lead presentations that share learning experiences from their classrooms or on special topics like Real Script or integration of SWI with subject areas. These faculty members also provide additional support and practical suggestions for attendees working in groups on investigations at the SWI Institute. 

The History of Structured Word Inquiry

Structured Word Inquiry was started by Peter Bowers PhD, founder of the WordWorks Literacy Centre in Ontario, Canada. For most of his ten years as an elementary school teacher in international schools and in Canada, Peter shared the common view that English spelling is highly irregular and full of exceptions to be memorized. In his 9th year of teaching, Pete developed a new inquiry-based technique for teaching English to children grades preK-5.

Learn more about Pete’s practice when you visit his website.


Three Institute Options

Part One

Part One

2-Day Introductory Workshop
Mon. - Tues., June 18 - 19 ($500)

The 2-Day Introductory Workshop provides foundational understanding of teaching Structured Word Inquiry. The Part One course is recommended to SWI beginners and novices. 

Part Two

Part Two

3-Day Advanced Workshop
Wed. - Fri., June 20 - 22 ($750)

The 3-Day Advanced Workshop assumes knowledge from Part One, or substantial exposure with Structured Word Inquiry. It is not recommended for novices to jump into Part Two with little background. 

During Part Two, Carolee Fucigna (Pre-K) and Laraine Ray (Kindergarten) present a break-out session for lower school teachers, while Pete Bowers delves into activities for teachers of older students.

Full group presentations will be led by Sam Modest, Erin Metcalf (Grades 2 and 3), and Karen Tiegel (Middle School). Current Nueva Structured Word Inquiry Coach, Rebecca Loveless, will present a session on Real Script and offer expertise and guidance for throughout the 5 days.


Parts One & Two

Parts One and Two

Full 5-Day Workshop
Mon, - Fri., June 18 - 22 ($1150)  

The full 5-Day institute is combination of Parts One and Two and is offered to both novice or experienced participants.



Testimonials from the Institute

I believe that work we’ve begun doing with Structured Word Inquiry is profound and revolutionary. I believe that it is relevant to educators who work in every discipline and with all age groups. I believe that it represents most accurately what we know about teaching and learning and enacts the core values held in our community.”

Emily Kolatch, former Head of the Nueva Lower School
The above is taken from Emily’s short article on SWI at Nueva in the Nueva Journal. See her full article.


What I love about Pete's workshops is that he takes a room full of teachers and turns them into learners.”


- Jonathan Twigg, Primary School Assistant Principal-PYP Coordinator at International School of Lausanne


Sign me up!

Because of the tremendous interest in the Institute, we will again offer three institute options again this summer. Registration cost includes all materials and delicious breakfasts, lunches, and snacks each day.

Given the interest in the Institutes, we would like to begin enrolling participants now. Please follow the link below to register to join us at the Structured Word Inquiry Institute 2018.

All program participation fees are due in advance to confirm your registration and participation.  Any cancellation and refund requests must be submitted in writing via email to  Refund requests will be considered at the Institute's sole discretion and generally follow the following guidelines:

Registration Information

Institute Pricing Options

2-day Introductory Workshop: 
Mon. - Tues
June 18-19 ($500)

3-day Advanced Workshop
Wed. - Fri
June 20 - 22 ($750)

Full 5-day Workshop:  Mon. - Fri
June 18 - 22 ($1150)


2018 SWI Institute

All sessions are held from 9:30 – 3:30pm


The Nueva School
San Mateo Campus
131 E 28th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403

This Institute is eligible for Continuing Education Units.

Explore for resources, videos, and more.