NeWP Fall and Winter Writing Marathons

The fall and winter marathon were filled with great writers and beautiful weather. The annual fall writing marathon was held at Platte River State Park September 26-28th. Participants gathered Saturday morning for a new addition to the weekend, an Unconference. Veteran and pre-service teachers enjoyed an open discussion on education issues such as the responsibility and restrictions of social justice in the classroom. Ideas were discussed over hot-off-the griddle pancakes and under a light sprinkling of rain.

The marathon launched from Owen 9 at noon. Two groups of writers ventured out to explore climbing walls, tipis, the Interstate Chapel and Platte River State Park’s rock wall. Writing was shared along with an impressive cabin dinner.

This years Winter Marathon was preceeded by the NeWP winter board retreat and celebration dinner for Rhonda Schoenmaker. TCs and board members offered special thanks for Rhonda’s support of and dedication to the NeWP and teachers. A poetry tribute highlighted Rhonda’s talent for keeping things running smoothly. Her patience, ingenuity, and warmth was likened to everything from motor oil to being a master gardener.

The winter marathon launched from Blue Orchid. The first stop brought the writers to Gallery 9, an independent gallery and professional artists affiliation. The gallery’s highlight was the main gallery which showcased American Veterans paintings and photography. Afterwards the writers spread out around the Lincoln capital, observing and noting the Women’s March. Indigo Books was home of the final writing and read around.

To read writing from these two events, please click here.

Diana Weis  |  Nebraska Writing Project

Fall and Winter Writing Marathons

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Plum Creek Literacy Festival

On Saturday, September 24, 2016, I attended the Plum Creek Literacy Festival at Concordia University in Seward, NE. This, the 3rd day of a 3 day event, was designed for adults to enjoy listening to children’s authors speak about their writing and their books. While I got to enjoy the funny, engaging, and interesting presentations by numerous authors, I also got to take part in representing the Nebraska Writing Project. Along with 4 other people, I talked with the educators and interested patrons at the conference about NeWP and what it had to offer. We received information from 12 different conference attendees, including people from UNL, Peru State College, York College, and Lincoln City Libraries, as well as a retired teacher. There were also many others who stopped by to ask questions and expressed interest in our mission. It was my first experience representing NeWP at a conference and was an unbelievable opportunity to socialize with others who also have a passion for writing.

Ashley Mundil  |  Pyrtle Elementary, Lincoln

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Nine Secondary Teachers Participate in the Gretna Writing Project Institute

In the Gretna Public School district the practice and teaching of writing is held in high regard. Gretna teachers in all grade levels and across the curriculum have long worked together to discover the best practices in writing instruction and assessment through research, experimentation, and collaboration. The fall of 2016 brought an opportunity for Gretna’s secondary teachers to devote three hours per week in the pursuit of these tasks as participants in the Gretna Writing Project Institute.

Gretna has offered an annual embedded writing institute to its k-12 teachers for several years now, but the 2016 class opened the doors to a new territory when three science teachers joined the six English teachers participating in the institute. Together, these nine educators spent invaluable hours discussing the field of teaching and the craft of writing. Though nearly all participants were initially hesitant to enroll in the institute (We all know that the “We teach! There’s never enough time as it is!” argument is a valid one!) each was glad to have done so by the end of the semester.

It would be impossible to determine which component of the writing institute model is most effective: the EQUIPS, the inquiry projects, or personal writing groups. Each of these facets of the institute inspired lively and heartfelt discussions and helped the teacher participants to unravel their own perspectives on issues facing them professionally and personally. Three small writing groups, made up of three teachers each, were a welcome respite in the hectic shuffle of teaching every week. Personal writing projects that were developed during the institute include poetry collections, a playscript, several chapters of a novel, professional research and writing for journal submission, and even some ancestry chronicling. The relationships formed by sharing these intimate writings with one another are truly priceless.

The EQUIP presentations were also brilliantly planned and executed each week. The addition of the science teachers to the traditional institute dynamic created a wonderfully diverse set of voices in the feedback and questioning portion of each presentation.

EQUIP topics included:

  • Un-Writing: Putting Language to its Best Use
  • Using Film to Promote Writing
  • Stream of Consciousness Composition in the Science and English Classroom
  • Qualitative Analysis and the Use of Imagery in the Chemistry Lab
  • Authentic Writing Experiences in Every Classroom
  • Sensory Observation as a Writing Tool
  • Creative Writing in Science Content
  • Drawing for Analysis and Poetry Writing
  • Imitation Writing: The Book of Qualities and Jue Ju poems

Inquiry presentations were equally diverse and intriguing, featuring research and discussion about multiple intelligences, the brain science behind listening to music while studying and writing, and changing the idea of literature studies to feature more short pieces than novels.

All in all, the 2016 Gretna Writing Project Institute was time well spent. The 2016 participants have been encouraging their professional peers to take the leap and join next year’s institute. Hopefully we will see even more departments working to incorporate more writing into their lives and courses as they are increasingly represented in this powerful program.

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Jennifer Long  |  Nebraska Writing Project

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