Fall Greetings 2018!


Oregon’s fall colors get me every year. They are a poignant reminder of how swiftly the time goes. This past summer flew by and now, with school in full swing, we hope you will peruse our newsletter for recaps on summer happenings here at the OWPC@GFU and coming events in our spring semester.
We invite you to start with this story of a teacher consultant committing to a deep learning experience through our Winter Institute experience, and consider whether there is anyone you know who might benefit from an invitation to apply for the Institute.  

Carrie Hall formed her inquiry for the Winter Institute around a writing club for marginalized middle -school students at a private alternative school. This school primarily serves children identified with learning disabilities and neurodevelopmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While all the teachers in the school knew and valued these students' un ique learning needs, there were so me learners who "just wouldn't write," and subsequently disrupted the regular classroom setting. Carrie Hall set out to support these teachers by inviting those students to come to her for a weekly writing club designed around the question, "What might happen when joy is at the center of a writing club?"

Using Fletcher's "Joy Write: Cultivating high-impact, low-stakes writing" as a guiding text, Carrie designed a writing club loosely modeled after Frank Smith's literacy clubs. This became a space where writers' notebooks, humorous picture books, sketching, and various other writing rehearsals formed core principles for how writers worked. They built writing greenbelts, writing that didn't have to be managed, revised, or edited, unless students wanted to do so. They used perspective writing on inanimate objects to promote perspective-taking skills, and found their writing funny and joyful. In short, what happened was a lot of writing. These student writers blossomed under Carrie's supervision and competed with one another to write the best stories, the longest stories, and the funniest stories. They played with words and wanted to write past when it was time to go back to their regular classroom. Carrie taught this group in a room with a window where other teachers could walk by and see them writing, and she regularly got caught in the hallway with questions about what she was doing to get "those" writers to write so much, and why were they always laughing? Since the institute, Carrie has continued her writing club and what's more, she is sharing with fellow teachers what she did to promote joy in the writing process to expand these practices across the school.

-Susanna Thornhill, Director of OWPC @ George Fox University

Institutes in the Teaching of Writing

2019 Winter Institute: Register now!

We are currently accepting applications for our upcoming 2019 Winter Institute, to be led by our own director, Susanna Thornhill.  This is a unique institute format designed for teachers’ busy schedules. Come one weekend a month (Friday night/Saturday) to learn alongside teachers from surrounding districts. The Institute is available to teachers from all grade levels and content areas, and the learning experience is the richer for the diversity. Apply now to earn three graduate credits or 45 PDUs. Tuition rates for this course are reduced and often districts will reimburse.
More info here.

Apply Online

2018 Summer Institute Recap

June found a group of educators meeting together to explore writing through the lens of their own writing experience and as teachers of writing. On a bright, Saturday morning, the group met in downtown Portland to participate in a writing marathon. Moving from place to place in the city, writers allowed their surroundings to guide them, immersing themselves in the experience. This deeply personal activity was a perfect opening for the Summer Institute. In the days to follow, participants learned from and with each other­­; interacting with methodology, pursuing lines of inquiry, and engaging with resources to support practice. Eager teachers closed the institute with plans to integrate their new knowledge into their established practice and to continue the relationships they’d developed.

- Teacher Consultants, Carrie Hall & Megan Hills

Young Writers' Camps

2018 Update

Led by teacher-consultant Christy Beckstrom, Writing Fairy Tales Camp in August was attended by nine students, grades 5-9, at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. The young writers prepared beforehand by writing a detailed description of their own magical or mythical character. During camp they learned about setting, characterization, plot, narrative mapping, and peer editing while writing and illustrating their own fairy tale story. The art museum helped provide setting ideas as well as character and plot elements. Many thanks to our hosts at Hallie Ford, for it gave the young writers plenty of creative inspiration. The students were all very enthusiastic and, in addition to their storybook and writing notebook, they were able to take home the knowledge of several writing exercises to help them focus their ideas. Friends and family members gathered together on the last day of camp to support the young writers and to hear the completed tales. This provided Christy the opportunity to conference with students and their families, discussing future projects and how parents can support their writers.

Summer 2019

Plans are underway now for next year’s Young Writers’ Camps! If you’re interested in exploring creating writing outlets with student writers next summer, please email Susanna Thornhill for information. We usually release information about upcoming writers' camps in early spring, so make sure to stay connected to our newsletter and Facebook page  for all the details!

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Writing Prompts & Inspiration

Long-time writing fellow Steve Jones offered some creative writing practices to teachers at the annual OPA Conference in Eugene, and was generous to share them with us. We hope you’ll try some and send us pictures of your students writing to the OWPC email.

Writing Prompts:
  • Hearing rain at night
  • What pisses you off
  • The unique scent of a woman/man
  • What if?
  • When I think of poems
  • Describe a time of intense fear
  • Describe the flavor of an orange
  • Your favorite tree
  • Your reoccurring dream
  • Describe a favorite road trip
  • Memory of one particular day
  • Your special place
  • What are dreams?
  • If I could do that over again
  • A most evocative smell
  • Your earliest memory
  • An hour of work
  • Your favorite geography
  • Endless summer
  • Wind susurration
  • Describe your favorite idea
  • List six bodacious words, use them
  • Your worst nightmare
  • When I think of you
  • On a rainy night in Paris
  • Once upon a time
  • Would you believe?


*A poem can teach new ways of seeing.
*A poem can open a door with a whisper.
*A poem can say what’s better left unsaid.
*A poem can put a new sheen on the world.
*A poem can take your box step for a Samba.
*A poem can inspire you to write a new poem.
*A poem can knit your brow or wring a tear.
*A poem can lilt a song.
*A poem can lead an expedition.
*A poem can fly on the wind.
*A poem can earn a kiss.
*A poem can read the riot act.
*A poem invites the quiet.
*A poem knows a certain slant of light.
*A poem gives hope to reach new places.
*A poem bakes an upside down cake, revealing the other side.
*A poem is a path for your given light to leak back into the world.
*A poem is an itch that can’t be scratched, spinning but not falling.
*A poem is freedom of speech, a voice that can sing any song.
*A poem can explode in juicy goodness, peeling away outer layers.
*A poem can elevate, inspire & take us to untraveled places.
*A poem can be enjoyed with ginger snaps & coffee.
*A poem can greet a lover or open a conversation.
*A poem can celebrate my mother’s birthday years after death.
*A poem can peel paint from the walls.
*A poem can startle us into wakefulness.
*A poem can help us discover what we’ve never known.
*A poem can make laughter and weeping.