Teachers Teaching Teachers
The National Writing Project is the premier effort to improve writing in America. It began at the University of California at Berkeley in 1974 and now has over 200 sites around the country, including the Southern Maine Writing Project at the University of Southern Maine. The Writing Project fosters an interdisciplinary community and support system of teachers, administrators, and specialists from all grade levels and content areas, K‑University. Get involved by applying to the Invitational Summer and Fall Institute. More >
SMWP: A Model At Work
We were recently featured in the current issue of the Model at Work which is "a rich collection of ideas, strategies and programs gathered from NWP sites across the country." The article, Southern Maine WP Tests Alternative Model for the Invitational Summer Institute, can be found in the left sidebar.
Our Own TCs Share Their Passion
Leah Siviski, a TC and a member of the Leadership Team, was recently interviewed by the Maine Educator about engaging students in writing while keeping an eye on standards: "When it comes to engaging students in writing to meet standards there are some fundamentals that have proven to work, and work well for South Portland High School English teacher Leah Siviski." The question and answer format shares strategies that can be used in any classroom.
TC Joanne Lannin published Finding a Way to Play, about the pioneers of women's basketball. An avid basketball player, Joanne shares her passion of the sport through her writing. Here is what ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan has to say about the book: “Joanne Lannin has played and covered the game of basketball with great fervor and passion, and in her new book she captures the spirit of the women who pioneered the sport she treasures. Their stories are inspiring, heartbreaking and infuriating, and they spring to life with the author’s steady voice guiding the way. If you love the game, you’ll love this book.” You can explore more of Joanne's work and order her book by visiting her blog. Finding a Way to Play is also available on Amazon.
TC Andy Young has collected a number of his columns into a self published book. Young Ideas: Twelve Extraordinarily Thought-Provoking Essays (And 58 Others) By An Exceptionally Ordinary Human Being consists of 70 different columns, each 800 words or less. They all previously appeared in one of eight different Maine newspapers. Andy points out that his selections were "intended to amuse, inspire and/or prompt life-changing epiphanies. With a little luck a couple of the really good ones might do all three." You can read more about the book, how to obtain a copy, Andy's interesting past, and an early aversion to writing in a recent interview.
See more TCs in action.
Writing by the Sea: A Writing Retreat
for Writers and Writing Teachers
Join the Southern Maine Writing Project for an explorative and creative journey to one of Maine’s secret treasures, Burnt Island. One mile from Boothbay Harbor, this five-acre space is a stunning natural sanctuary where it’s easy to forget the toils of your daily routine and conjure up your creative and collaborative self. While surrounded by the spectacular sights and sounds of mid-Maine’s rocky coast, writers and writing teachers will be treated to the supreme luxury: time and space to compose. During this three-day, two-night getaway, participants will:
SMWP is one of the National Writing Projects of Maine
Teen Authors To Tailor Their Topics At Summer Camp
by Dawn De Busk
NAPLES — It only takes a flick of the wrist to create a utopia where only best friends and favorite pastimes exist.
It only takes a flick of the wrist to concoct a post-apocalyptic world where daily life is for those with a warrior’s heart.
That is the magic of writing.
The magic of transforming an idea into the written word is why agencies like the Southern Maine Writing Project (SMWP) promote writing camps.
This summer, for teenagers only, a Young Authors Camp is being offered in Naples. The daytime camp happens at the Naples Public Library during the last week of June. The camp starts Monday, June 27, and runs through Friday, July 1. In order for the camp to happen, at least seven teens must sign up by June 6.
The instructor, Anne Walker, has been an English teacher for 25 years, and currently works at Gray-New Gloucester High School. She has been certified as a SMWP teacher consultant in 2007.
This teacher, who calls Naples her home, is thrilled to share the writing experience with teens. And, if those future campers have some thrilling or chilling stories to tell, Walker’s areas of expertise are bound to intrigue. She has studied dystopian literature and writing.
“Dystopian – it’s a world gone wrong, a glimpse into the future. There are a lot of teen dystopian books out,” she said, citing such as The Hunger Games trilogy. “I have taught horror literature. Some students are interested in fantasy and science fiction.”
“They just have to love writing,” Walker said. “If they love writing, they will have a great time.”
“The Naples Public Library has graciously given us permission to have use of the grounds. That week we will have the run of the library. There is the cool basement with a kitchen, and nice reading nooks upstairs. It is the prime location for this,” she said.
The day camp’s location in Naples and the timeframe could prove to be perfect for both local residents and nonresidents who spend the summer here, arriving before the Fourth of July.
The location of the Naples library will make it easy for students to walk to other interesting spots like the Causeway, the shores of Long Lake or the town cemetery for writing exercises, according to Walker.
“We will do a writing marathon,” she said. “You take off with a notebook, walk and sit down and write for a while, walk and write, walk and write, all day. There will be one day that is dedicated to a writing marathon.”
“Kids love that — the freedom of walking around, and yet having the purpose of writing in their minds,” she said.
“It all gets incorporated into their writing pieces,” she said.
SMWP will publish an anthology that will include writing from about a half dozen Young Authors Camps taking place this summer in southern Maine. The camp registration fee covers the cost of the anthology. The publication will not be done by the time camp ends, but it is worth the wait when young writers receive it this summer, Walker said.
“These writing camps are all run by the SMWP that basically recruits teachers who are passionate about writing,” she said. “We know how to transform our classroom practices into a fun experience for teen writers.”
The writing genres are vast. It could be poetry or song lyrics or personal memoirs or science fiction. The choice of which direction to take it is up to the students.
Another style of writing that Walker has taught is the digital story.
“They turn a piece of writing into a visual showcase combining music, recorded narrations, images, photos. We work with I-Movie to put it together,” she said.
“Anyone can bring their own voice, their own style to the camp and have that nurtured. It will be a nurturing peer group that they can work in. Their writing can transform through the peer group as they share writing and get feedback,”
“It will be a very relaxed environment,” she said.
Young Writers Thrive in SMWP's Young Authors Camps
by Leah Siviski
What better way to spend a summer morning than sitting hunched over a composition notebook, thoughts whirling, pencil poised for brilliance? Dozens of school-aged kids in Southern Maine would say “Nothing’s better than that!” Those kids who attended SMWP’s Young Authors Camps spent many rich hours of summer exploring their imaginations and creativity with activities such as paint chip poetry, writing marathons, six-word memoirs, write around the room, and much, much more! Corinne Bevans, a rising seventh grader who attended the Yarmouth YAC, encapsulated her experience in this six-word memoir: “A marathon of inspiration to write.” Ahhhhhh...happy summer!