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For 38 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, Read More

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WriteFest 2015

Sarah DeBacher | May 6, 2015

As the school year draws to a close, we still can’t shake our excitement about WriteFest 2015. On Saturday, April 18, teachers from across New Orleans and around the country gathered at the University of New Orleans for a day of sharing pedagogy, writing, and above all, feeling pride in what we do. WriteFest is Read More


When I Was Your Age

Sarah DeBacher | April 15, 2015

“There’s school, and then there’s life. At least that’s how we used to think about it when we were students. We’d run into one of our teachers at the grocery store and be all, ‘WHAT?! You don’t LIVE at the school?’ Once, Sarah and her mom bumped into one of her English teachers out walking Read More

Our First Write@UNO Workshop!

Sarah DeBacher | October 21, 2014

Our first Write@UNO workshop of the year was a huge success! We hosted fifteen young writers from schools around New Orleans for a day of tutoring and craft classes. Andy Young hosted our poetry class, in which students were asked to write praise poems in the style of Kevin Young’s “Ode to the Hotel Near Read More

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Greater New Orleans Writing Project

Teaching as an act of love...

Read this to fill your heart!

Sarah Vowell

A Reflection on Beginning A New School Year
by Minnesota high school English teacher and poet Van Anderson:

I like to begin new classes each year by asking my student to jot down three questions they have about the course, the school, me, or life in general. I do this because I’m curious about their curiosities, and I also want to tell them about the class and give them a sense of their teacher.

I teach high school English, so students always ask about what books they’ll read, how many papers they’ll write, how hard a grader I am. And then there are questions about the meaning of life, my family, and when I began teaching. Occasionally a student will ask why I teach; this year there were several in one class who asked that.

I answered by referring to an article I’d recently read on the Star Tribune editorial page. The author, Christine Sikorski, describes waiting for news about her soon-to-be-adopted Chinese daughter, imagining the tiny girl being left in a basket somewhere in China and the pain associated with a mother’s footsteps fading away, the separation from first family and country.

At the same time, Sikorski writes about children in the news dying in countries around the world, in Lebanon, Israel, Rwanda, Sudan. She imagines one of those children as hers and wants to “will into being a world safe for children” but knows the world is already broken for her unseen daughter and others like her.

Given the great sorrows she knows her daughter will see and hear, Sikorski asks: “What can we say to convince our child that the world is whole enough, safe enough to set her feet upon, open her heart to- especially when we’re not convinced it is?”

Teachers might ask the same question about their own children or the children in their classrooms. And our answer might be similar to Sikorskis’s: “I don’t know. But we can teach her that despite the way loss marks each of us, love, too, is busy in the world.”

Teaching as an act of love may sound a bit soft in the hard currency of today’s education. But love is an organizing principle and perspective more than a starry-eyed fantasy. I still believe what I wrote in the January 2005 Educator: “To love a subject…is to love a small piece of the world or universe or a part of human history and expression, and to love that small piece is a step toward loving the whole.”

If teaching is not an act of love, perhaps it is at least an act of faith and hope. What we pass on to students may help them build a better world than the broken one we have inherited and seem to be passing on to them.

Certainly there is joy in life and teaching, but sometimes we may look at the insistent sorrow of the world, at its complex causes, and then at our students and feel a bit like Sisyphus, that character in Greek mythology. His task is to push a heavy rock to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back down, but he always descends and begins pushing again.

At the beginning of each year, we put our collective shoulders to the rock in front of us, hoping we can begin to give students the understanding, skills, and tools to build a world whole enough to embrace their hearts and safe enough to bear their feet.

French writer Albert Camus retells the Sisyphus myth. At the end of the tale, Camus sees Sisyphus once again at the foot of his mountain, ready to shoulder his burden, dedicated to a “higher fidelity.” The story concludes: “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Aug 26th 6:27am • No Comments


Small Group Writing


Jennifer Rosenzweig leads her High School English Literature students through a writing process in response to a book they have read. In small groups or pairs, students discuss their argument and evidence from the text before beginning to write their response. The result of this process, the class p…

Aug 23rd 6:29pm • No Comments

From Katie Wood Ray's book, The Writing Workshop:

"We will ask students to do their best to write well in our workshops, so they need to have good reasons of their own to need to write well. At the very heart of needing to write well is personal topic selection.

"Even when the teaching in the room is very focused on a particular kind of writing (genre) and students are required to do this kind of writing, students can still decide what they will write about in this genre."

Aug 22nd 10:13am • No Comments

A profile of local writers Bill Loefelm and AC Lambeth, and their digs. Check out the comments section for more local writers talking about their spaces. What makes home a writing-rich space for you?


For marital bliss, squeeze 2 writers, 2 dogs, 2 offices in a New Orleans walk-up


Bill Loehfelm writes by night and A.C. Lambeth writes by day -- all in the same small apartment.

Aug 21st 9:39am • No Comments