NCTE 2014: Writing Marathons in Washington D. C.

Jeff at the Gaylord

This November, I had the wonderful opportunity to represent the Nebraska Writing Project and Westside High School at the National Council of Teachers of English conference in Washington D. C. I also attended the National Writing Project national conference where we celebrated the 40th year of the writing project’s existence! The energy and enthusiasm was infectious. I felt surrounded by thousands of creative educational experts.



I was invited to present with Dr. Susan Martens, formerly of the Nebraska Writing Project and now the director of the Prairie Lands Writing Project in St. Joseph, Missouri. We were joined by Richard Louth of the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project and Casey Olsen of the Montana Writing Project.

Casey, Richard, Jeff, and Susan

Each of us shared our pedagogical approach to using Writing Marathons as an educational tool with students of writing. We presented to teachers from all over the country and capped off the presentation by taking them on a miniature writing marathon right there in the conference room. It was wonderful to be able to share our mutual love for writing and teaching with other professionals.

Teachers of Writing




Later that day, we invited everyone to join us on a rogue marathon into historic Alexandria, Virginia. Sixteen of us took a fairy across the freezing Potomac river and into the beautiful suburb filled with wonderful pubs and restaurants. I am confident that those first-timers will return to their classrooms to share the magic of the writing marathon with their own students.


The Rogue Writing Marathon

My own teaching was enhanced by partaking in presentations on teaching Shakespeare, the Gettysburg Address and many other reading and writing topics. The trip was a fantastic journey to the nation’s capital while staying at the festive Gaylord Resort center just south of Washington D.C.

Thank you to NeWP and Westside for making the trip possible and to Susan Martens for inviting me to join the panel!

Continue Reading

Agate Teacher’s Workshop: Exploring the Bones of Place


Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 9.26.44 PM[by Fred MacVaugh]

Are you eager to explore opportunities to combine creative writing and science in the classroom? Join teachers from around Nebraska for a June 9–10, 2015 teacher’s workshop and writing marathon at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in northwest Nebraska. The workshop is open to all teachers in and outside of Nebraska Writing Project and will touch mainly on the areas of science, English, and history.

Facilitators from NeWP and the National Park Service will lead participants in science-themed, place-based writing exercises, readings, and discussions. They’ll lead hikes to the early 20th-century fossil quarries where paleontologists like the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Erwin Barbour and others discovered some of the world’s rarest and most significant 20-million-year-old mammal remains. Participants will also explore paleontology-, science-, and Nebraska-themed poetry and creative nonfiction (essays) written by Cornhusker State native, author, and anthropologist/paleontologist Loren Eiseley, Barbour’s one-time student and a contributor to numerous panhandle paleontological excavations and discoveries.

Created by Congress in 1965, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument preserves Nebraska’s most famous early Miocene Epoch “paleontological sites,” “their related geological phenomena,” and a world-class collection of cultural artifacts associated with Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota. By the workshop’s end, you as a participant will have learned the stories and significance of all three resources, written and shared your own poetry and essays, and explored possibilities for combining creative writing and science in classroom activities, assignments. and instruction (including through distance learning).

More information about the workshop, including registration, cost ($25), and lodging, can be found through the links listed below. Further information about Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, which celebrates its 50th anniversary during the weekend of June 5, 2015, can be found on its website:

Agate Fossil Beds National Monument



Application Link:

Brochure Link:


Continue Reading