For 35 years, the Greater New Orleans Writing Project at the University of New Orleans has been a site of the National Writing Project, an organization dedicated to improving writing and the teaching of writing throughout the Greater New Orleans area and the nation. We achieve our goals through teacher collaboration, inquiry into best practices, and support of teacher-writers and student-writers in New Orleans area classrooms.
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June 30 - July 25, 2014
8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
University of New Orleans Lakefront Campus

36th Invitational Summer Institute: Focus on Collaborative Learning and Writing

UPDATE: Application deadline extended & tuition assistance available!

Great news! GNOWP has received a grant that will allow us to provide $800 of tuition support to the first ten talented teachers accepted to the Summer Institute. In light of our receipt of this grant, we’re extending the application deadline to May 9. Get your application in today to benefit from this tuition assistance opportunity!

Applications for the 2014 Invitational Summer Institute are now open!
The Greater New Orleans Writing Project Summer Institute is a four week, full day professional development course where teachers learn how to strengthen their own writing and their teaching of writing. During the four week course, teachers will engage in writing workshops, pursue an inquiry-based research project, present a successful classroom lesson grounded in best practices, and write a professional statement.
When teachers complete the GNOWP Summer Institute, they earn six hours of graduate credit in English or education and the designation of Teacher Consultant for the National Writing Project.

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On Creativity

Sarah DeBacher | October 21, 2013

This entry comes to us from GNOWP allstar Ari Zeiger. Ari attended the Summer Institute in 2012, co-facilitated it in 2013, and teaches writing (brilliantly!) at Delgado Community College. ### In this short video, Sir Ken Robinson discourses on a range of subjects (from creativity to education to imagination). At last count, I’ve watched the Read More


May There Be Pens, May There Be Paper

Sarah DeBacher | May 21, 2013

“Writing is both a challenge and an extreme exigency—that is, it is both called forth by and constitutes the trauma. But writing both exceeds and is inadequate to the task; it is both unavoidable and impossible.”— Peter and Maureen Daly Goggin, Trauma and the Teaching of Writing (2005).

In my attic there is box containing hundreds of magnets I collected from curb-side refrigerators after Hurricane Katrina. I’d been fortunate enough to have a home to return to, but when I was allowed to return to New Orleans in October of 2005, the city was virtually unrecognizable. The visual landscape was so disrupted, so disruptive, that it made its way into horrifying underwater nightmares I couldn’t shake. Even when I dreamt lucidly, I was unable to wake myself, my subconscious seemingly aware that the waking-world would provide no comfort. What on earth was this? How on earth could this have happened? I spent my days in a kind of stupor, and yet the collection of refrigerator magnets and documentation of their sites gave me a kind of purpose. I had no idea what I would do with the magnets. I still don’t. I just needed to do something.

School began. I got busy with the work of teaching—an immense comfort and immense burden, both. My classes took place online, but internet connectivity was spotty, at best. Regular power outages plunged us into darkness and we shuffled out onto stoops to visit with others who’d returned, to share stories about how we’d “made out in the storm.”

My students had it much worse than I did. Before that semester began, I’d grown accustomed to the usual range of excuses for late work: dead grandmothers (so many dead grandmothers!), flat tires, printers without ink, etc. But this semester the excuses punched me in the gut. “I lost my job, my home, everything. Can I please have an extension on Essay 2?” Yes. Yes! I remember feeling like my every teacherly choice that semester was Really Effing Important. What would I assign? How could I respond ethically and empathetically to students whose lives had been—like mine—upended entirely? (I wrote about the experience of teaching after Hurricane Katrina in an article that appeared in Reflections in 2007.)

Today I’ve been thinking about the texts I produced in the immediate aftermath of Katrina (although I’ve learned that a more accurate way of putting it is “in the aftermath of the failure of the federal levees.) I’ve been thinking about that box of magnets and the blogging I did and the writing I assigned, and the emails I sent, and how my words helped me heal but also plunged me right back into the depths of despair, too.


Teaching Children(,) Grazed by Bullets

Sarah DeBacher | May 13, 2013

This weekend was intense in ways expected and not. The expected territory came on Saturday, when GNOWP welcomed ten of the twelve teachers who will be joining us during this year’s Summer Institute. We gathered in the Liberal Arts building on the campus of the University of New Orleans to write together, to build some community.
Early on, two of our teachers—Jeanne Patrick and Allison Lowe—shared a standout moment from the written conversation they’d just had. Jeanne had written about the importance of finding ways to make her students feel safe so they could then take brave risks in their writing. We all nodded in agreement. For risky writing to take place, there must be safety.

Risky writing is the brave, truth-telling stuff through which we do more than poke dead things with sticks—we wrestle with why they died; we take a good, close look at the effed-up fact that we will all, someday, (today, maybe,) die too; we lay them to rest, eulogizing worms and birds, and the dark stuff bubbling up in the children who abuse them, with an empathy achievable only through deep consideration and an acknowledgement that the First Thought might not be the right one. Risky writing does not pose easy questions or provide simple answers. It plows past platitudes and kisses complexity. It dives right into the depths of “I don’t know,” the only sure thing being that some discovery will be made, that the heart of the writer will be changed.

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Homework Diner Has Real Food, Real Community

Video on msnbc.com: A New Mexico school is combining homework time, dinner time and tutor time with its Homework Diner.

Aug 29th 12:08pm • No Comments

"Ultimately, when corporations appropriate aspects of our mission for their own purposes in the public schools, it diverts attention away from their advertising motive and leaves a misleading impression of magnanimity. In this era of underfunding for schools, it is easy to see how this happens. It is hard to refuse $150,000, no matter what strings are attached. My school, like most others, doesn’t have that kind of money lying around. Even if it did, chances are good that extra funds would not be put toward remodeling the library. But this is the catch: If solid, adequate, and long-term public funding for schools is not available, it sets up the opportunity for corporations to provide for schools instead, on their own terms, and in a disturbingly patronizing way."

The Library that Target Built


I am the teacher-librarian in one of two San Francisco school libraries remodeled by the big-box chain Target, in partnership with the Heart of America Foundation (HOA). HOA, which coordinates corporate volunteer programs focused on literacy, provides a few different options, including the one Targe…

Aug 29th 10:36am • No Comments

Back to school!

Kid President's Pep Talk to Teachers and Students!

Kid President believes we're all teachers and we're all students. What are you teaching the world? Who are you learning from? Share this with a special teach...

Aug 27th 3:49pm • No Comments


Teacher Asks Students To Split Into 2 Groups To Simulate Ideal Class Size


GREENSBORO, NC—Hoping that a hands-on demonstration would help students grasp the concept, local teacher Rachel McKenzie reportedly instructed her class of 38 fourth-graders Wednesday to divide into two groups in order to simulate the conditions of ...

Aug 27th 3:16pm • No Comments