In celebration of our 40th anniversary in 2014, Our NWP opened with “40 for 40,” a collaborative writing project intended to launch a collective and public memory of “our NWP.” Forty teacher-leaders and directors from around the country wrote to the theme “Our NWP”. The campaign kicked off on June 23, 2014, and one piece was posted every day for 40 days using the hashtag #40for40. All 40 pieces are listed below.

#40for40: The Complete List

  • Our NWP is 40 This Year

    Our NWP is 40 this year. Not so old, but not so young either. Its beginnings in a Bay Area summer in 1974 are captured in these black & white photos and in Jim Gray’s memoir, Teachers at the Center. All of us share in that beginning of ‘our NWP’, and at the same time, ...

  • California Writing Project Celebrates NWP 40th Anniversary

    Happy 40th anniversary from the California Writing Project, the state network of sixteen local sites! CWP has celebrated these anniversaries every five years beginning with the 25th. The 30th, 35th, and now the 40th have been particularly important because they have coincided with devastating cuts to state or federal funding and so have served as ...

  • My NWP is Family

    In Ohio it was homemade lasagna, iced mochas from a Greek family coffee house, something called “pretzel dessert.” In California it was plums from a backyard tree, hummus, sushi, Arnold Palmers. Each summer, at National Writing Project sites across the country, teachers gather to share writing, to share knowledge, and probably most importantly, to share ...

  • Melanie Plesh: Putting the ‘Writing’ in Writing Project

    I remember when Melanie Plesh interviewed to become a Summer Fellow at the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project’s first summer institute in 1992. I was expecting an applicant named Melanie Lachin when a knock on my door announced a thin woman with red frizzy hair. I asked her if she was Melanie Lachin, and she said ...

  • On Keeping Fire

    “The truth about stories,” writes Native author Thomas King, “is that’s all we are.” He also quotes Nigerian storyteller Ben Okri, who said, “One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, and we are also living the stories we planted—knowingly or unknowingly—in ourselves…If we change the ...

  • My NWP Writes Together

    I ran into a teacher once who thought he’d met me before—but it took him a minute to remember who I was. “Oh,” he eventually recalled, “You’re that guy that makes us write.” I’m not sure if he was glad to see me. It’s pretty special for me to be remembered as “that guy who makes us ...

  • Janelle Bence: My NWP Video Blog

    In this video blog, Janelle Bence of the North Star of Texas Writing Project wishes a happy birthday to the National Writing Project and shares how NWP’s responsive approach to professional development has helped nurture her professionally, in turn helping her to meet the changing needs of her students.  

  • The Practice of Contemplation

    When I think about the National Writing Project, the image that comes to mind is a small group of teachers talking and listening to one another as they share their questions and as they imagine possibilities. This image highlights teachers in conversation, creating and cultivating relationships, tackling something that’s confusing or difficult or filled with ...

  • The NWP Playground: We Are All Players Here

    Learning, for me, at its best moment, is connected to play. And I do not mean “play” in a free spirited or anything goes, trivial sense. I mean focused, forget-what-time-it-is, completely-engaged-in-an-idea kind of play: the kind of play that Vygotsky or Dewey or Csikszentmihalyi write about. We often forget this connection between play and learning ...

  • Family Writing Project: Sanctuary and Source of Support

    When I think of the National Writing Project, my work with a teacher-consultant for the Central Arizona Writing Project, Tracey Flores, comes to mind. She came to my office after our first invitational summer institute in 2008 telling me, “Jessica, I have a good idea and I want to work with you and the Writing ...

  • That Week in Chico: Tech Matters And So Do People

    That week in Chico, California, is forever part of me. Taking part in the National Writing Project’s Tech Matters retreat in Northern California in 2006 truly shaped who I am today as a learner, an educator, and also, as an explorer of digital media. Tech Matters took my world in new and interesting directions: teaching, ...

  • What Writing Project Summer Institutes Offer Teachers

    The impact of the summer institute experience on me cannot be overestimated. Amongst all the professional learning experiences I’ve had over my brief career as a teacher, the Philadelphia Writing Project Summer Institute had the biggest impact on me. At that time, I was working in a school (not my current school) where I did not ...

  • Let’s Make More Stuff Together

    Looking back at my decade or so as a National Writing Project (NWP) Teaching Consultant (TC), I’m struck first and foremost by the camaraderie and connectedness of it all. I attended my first summer institute at the Central Virginia Writing Project, hosted by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. My mentor, Pat Harder, invited me ...

  • What is YOUR NWP?

    My NWP is a force for equity, justice, and innovation. It is a national network of locally networked, passionate, caring educators, learning for the sakes of others. As we question, write, experiment, and reflect together, magic happens. Magnificent teaching practices, student accomplishments, works of art, and acts of persuasion emerge. And here’s a story to illustrate: ...

  • Three Stanzas For Forty Years! A Congratulatory Blog Post for the National Writing Project’s Quaternary Anniversary

    i. (A Doodle) ii. (A Script) (Curtain opens. Man walks to large screen, center stage, and scratches head. Projector shines spotlight on him. Man looks to audience, squints into bright light, and turns to screen. Projector projects images. Stage is a cave. Images are shadows the man watches) A Ukranian grandmother, Hynka, who offers a child a box of Crayola ...

  • The National Writing Project is 40

    In 1987, I began my teaching career at Kelso High School, located in a lumber town on the Columbia river in southwest Washington state. I was part of a small English department, with eight others who had been teaching between 2 and 20+ years. My new colleagues were, for the most part, welcoming and helpful, ...

  • My NWP—Teaching, Community, Writing, Learning, Research

    Forty years of National Writing Project? Wow. It seems such a short time ago… Almost 20 years ago—half a lifetime for NWP—I was accepted to the Oklahoma State University Writing Project. Everything since that summer pivots on that moment. Before? Tentative movements, lack of resources and community, an inability to articulate what was wrong. After? The ...

  • There, I said it. Again.

    With regard to professional development in general, I’m neither an optimist nor a cheerleader. I choose to participate in professional organizations based on the degree to which I see their work positively supporting real teachers and real kids in a variety of contexts all across America. That said, I am excited to write about the ...

  • NWP Experience—Seeing the World With a New Set of Lenses

    Asking me to write about ONE experience, person of influence, or leadership role for the National Writing Project’s 40 for 40 Campaign is like asking a parent to name his or her favorite child. It simply can’t be done. Each experience or person I have met through the NWP has helped build a network ...

  • In Education, Change is the Only Constant

    It happened innocently enough. A teacher in one of my university courses about dialogical practice exclaimed, “I worry about where to draw the line with getting my students to question their beliefs. I don’t want to change their minds.” I paused for a second—really a hesitation—then responded, “How can you teach and not change minds?” That’s really ...

  • An Impossible Task

    I (along with 39 others) was asked to contribute 500-1000 words summing up what NWP means to me. I’m not sure I could do it in a book-length piece, though maybe I could do it in a haiku: Young struggling teacher Lifted by Summer Institute Retired Director No, doesn’t come close. Okay, who is my audience? Is it young ...

  • The Call Came on November 10, 2008

    Like many other November days in Michigan, I remember it being cold, wet, and windy. This was not uncommon for my birthday, which in years past had seen everything from glorious fall sunshine to a few inches of snow. This particular afternoon, I was finishing up at the gas station and preparing to pick my ...

  • My NWP Involvement Began with a Road Trip

    It’s hard to believe that my career-long involvement with the writing project began with a wild (and unusual) urge to take a road trip! Way back in 1991 we had just gotten our first minivan—the perfect vehicle for a family with two little boys—and even though my husband had to work, I was itching for ...

  • NWP is Family: Now I am home!

    For over thirty years now, I’ve regarded the National Writing Project as a family—as my professional family. Just like families, we engage together, go separate ways, but when we come back together we take up where we left off, our shared experiences of doing significant work together bonding us, but also leading us into shared ...

  • My NWP Makes Me a Better Teacher

    Two factors delayed my initiation into the National Writing Project: I never wanted to be a teacher; I am not a joiner. When I was a kid, the teachers I had didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves. I remember a strong emphasis on discipline, on sitting up straight and paying attention, on making the most ...

  • Doing the Meta

    As the school year closes, I begin the task of having my students do the meta. I see you nodding your head. Yes, we should all require our students to do the meta; the act of reflecting and analyzing one’s learning and thinking processes—metacognition. Here’s the rub: my students are third graders. Enough said! But, ...

  • The Circle of Learning

    Early on a Friday morning I awoke at my home in Connecticut, knowing I wouldn’t be returning back there until I had learned something. What that something was I didn’t know at the time, I just knew that I was on my way to NWP’s Urban Sites Conference in Birmingham and I was going to present my first ...

  • An Invitation

    I’m a geek. My inquiry for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project (WMWP) summer institute in 1994 focused on the differences for young people in composing with computers—a novelty at that time—rather than on paper. I helped plan and facilitate some of the first nationally organized professional development in our network related to digital literacies. I’ve blogged, ...

  • My NWP—Where Teachers Find Their Voice in the World

    An excerpt from the opening journal of my first summer institute in 2008, page one: So I bought this journal a few weeks ago, knowing I needed a place to begin my writing journal. I read the fact we have to bring our writing in copies to share on the first day. As if I am ...

  • NWP—Changes and Enduring Traditions

    Our site has been at UConn a long time—since 1982. As an undergraduate, I was a student of then-director Mary Mackley’s during the 1991-92 academic year, while I was attending the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates. Later, still early in my teaching career, I attended the summer institute (SI) at UConn in 1999. Mary ...

  • My NWP—Collaboration, Audience, and Discovery

    Last year I helped facilitate the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (CLMOOC). We seven facilitators, supported by the team from NWP, aimed to remix the idea of a Massive Open Online Course in order to learn in community about making and learning, and to explore Connected Learning Principles. In the video below, excerpted from ...

  • Flights of Fancy

    I love to fly. Not only does flying get me where I’m going faster, but airplanes have been important sites of development for me as a writer and a teacher leader. In fact, I am flying as I write this, traveling from Colorado, where I direct the Colorado State University Writing Project, to Berkeley, where ...

  • Push and Embrace

    Over my 36-year history with the National Writing Project, I have participated in a number of cross-site leadership teams for NWP initiatives. Each time I was so grateful (and surprised) to have been invited. It may just be nostalgia settling into my brain for a nice long visit, but for me, participating in the leadership ...

  • Learning to Listen: A Call for Support of the Writing Project’s Intensive Summer Institutes

    The small but heavy cardboard box had been opened, closed, and put aside—part of a larger project to plow through the accumulated debris of twenty-eight years of marriage. Its moving label read “Home Office. Books. His.” My daughter Stephanie called me to ask if I might pick it up as part of my upcoming trip ...

  • NWP: Where Teachers Meet True Grit

    There are so many stories I could tell of my twenty years with NWP: losing power on my first day of directing a summer institute in a room without windows, sitting next to Mary Ann Smith at my first professional writing retreat, my first Maker Faire with Patty Koller, but instead of focusing on beginnings, ...

  • What is My NWP? Thoughts From the Red River Valley Writing Project Leadership

    NWP means the world to us. Literally. As three leaders in the Red River Valley Writing Project, located in what was once the tall grass prairie region of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, we know the isolation that comes from long winters and a sparsely populated region. Through RRVWP, we connect to each other ...

  • Teacher as Poet. Poet as Teacher.

    Flickr photograph by Steve Johnson I began with poetry. My entry into writing started with rhymed couplets, with Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. And I wrote reams of poems, spiral notebooks filled with lines, and later disks filled with hundreds of word processing documents that stored my free verse, oddly spaced stanzas. I was fortunate ...

  • A Life That’s Good

    I am 30,000 feet above somewhere between Chicago and San Francisco, making my way back from two days of a complete geek out with my Writing Project colleagues. My brain is tired, and the work that has piled up in the office and my email inbox while I was neck deep in the big questions ...

  • My NWP—One Big Idea, One World

    “How did I get here?” It was a thought that both arrested and intrigued me just one month ago, on June 30, a day after getting off of a 19-hour flight from Chicago. I stepped into one of the air-conditioned training rooms at the English Language Institute in Singapore (ELIS) to begin two days of a ...

  • Thank You, Jim Gray

    My NWP began in 1986 at the invitation of Susan Lytle at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education and with the founding of the Philadelphia Writing Project. As I reflect on Our NWP today, I am filled with gratitude, awe, and renewed commitment to our mission and vision. Thank you, Jim Gray, and all ...