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Maine Writing Project

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Ken Martin, new director of the Maine Writing Project

Ken Martin, a Maine Writing Project Teacher-consultant since 1999, has been named Director of the Maine Writing Project.  Ken is taking over for Rich Kent who led the Writing Project for the last decade.

Ken comes to the head of MWP after a wealth of experience.  He spearheaded projects such as “Our Maine: The Way Life Is,” MWP’s version of the National Writing Project’s “Rural Voices Radio” programs. He and Debra Butterfield organized and led this state-wide project that involved Maine students and teachers in creating placed-based, spoken-word anthologies. With Dave Boardman, Ken played a critical role in developing NWP’s Digital Is resource website as well as helping to create the MWP Graduate Program in Writing and the Teaching of Writing. He has also reinvented the Invitational Summer Institute (ISI) by creating an Annual Institute comprised of an online spring semester course and an on-campus summer institute.

Ken has led a wide range of professional development activities, presented nationally, chaired conferences, and served as an ISI Mentor, ISI Co-Director and Director, Technology Liaison, Professional Development Director, Co-Director, and Associate Director. Ken is currently a member of the literacy faculty at UMaine and formerly a K-12 technology integration coach in Washington County and a high school English teacher at Narraguagus High School in Harrington, Maine.

Rich Kent has been Director of the Maine Writing Project for ten years in which time Writing Project membership has grown to nearly 400 Teacher-consultants and core programs like young authors camps have expanded considerably.  Rich is distinguished for introducing  innovative new programming including the annual Writing Ourselves conference, support for student-staffed writing centers, sponsoring the Southern Maine Writing Project, MaineWrites publishing, and the MWP Graduate Program in Writing and the Teaching of Writing.


Rich is a nationally recognized authority on student-staffed writing centers and on writing in athletic settings, including his Writing Athletes website.  Rich is an Associate Professor in Literacy at UMaine and will continue to advise the Maine Writing Project as he pursues his interests in writing, research, and teaching.
Congratulations, Ken!

Image Description: Ken Martin

Write Here, Write Now.

Join the National Writing Projects of Maine for Write Here, Write Now, a writing across the curriculum and writing centers conference at USM’s Lewiston/Auburn campus on October 25, 2013.  Workshops will feature a variety of write-to-learn strategies for students across content areas and grade levels. Register Online Today.

Promising Practices Conference Showcases 2013 Fellows

On July 11, over fifty UMaine students, local teachers, and Maine Writing Project  members gathered at the Donald P. Corbett Hall on the University of Maine campus.  MWP 2013 Institute Fellows were the centerpiece of this one-day conference presenting
teaching workshops on a wide variety of topics, including Digital Story Telling – It’s Not Just for Fiction Anymore, Peaceable Moments with Picture Books, Engaging Diverse Learners through Writing Stations, Using Social Media to Connect with Characters, and Composition, and Developmental Learners.

Along with the practical demonstrations, Writing Project participants caught up with old friends who came to support fellow teachers as writers and presenters. The day included lots of time for reflection and writing. Participants were treated to door prizes and lots of great food.

Organized by MWP’s Kris McBean, Promising Practices will be a yearly event. Check back here for information on Promising Practices 2014 and join the learning and fun.

2013 Annual Institute welcomes new teacher-consultants

The 2013 Annual Institute of the Maine Writing Project concluded with the seven-day Institute on Teacher Leadership held on the Orono campus July 1-12.  Twelve Fellows completed the online Introduction to the National Writing Project during the UMaine spring semester and became teacher-consultants by completing the July institute.

Highlights of this year’s institute included a visit from local children’s author Katie Quirk , a morning writing and sharing with forty-two writers from grades 3-12 at the Orono Young Authors Camp ,and our new TCs demonstrating their teaching practices at our Promising Practices Conference on July 11th.

This summer, an Advanced Institute in Teacher Leadership welcomed back six teacher-consultants from previous years.  These experienced MWP teacher leaders mentored the new Fellows along with completing their own writing and investigation of teacher leadership.

Wilhelm Fellows Awarded

We are pleased to announce two new recipients of the Jeffrey D. Wilhelm Fellow Award.

Amy Philbrook has been named the Wilhelm Fellow for 2012 and David Farady has been named for 2013.

The Wilhelm Fellow is awarded annually to a member of the Annual Institute who exemplifies devotion to teaching, collegial spirit, and scholarship.



Amy Philbrook has been an elementary teacher since 1988, taking a significant amount of time off to raise her four, active boys.  After three years as an education technician teaching writing and other subjects to third graders, Amy will begin this fall as the sixth grade teacher at Mount Desert Elementary School in Northeast Harbor.  For twenty years, Amy and her family lived year round on Little Cranberry Island, but now live in Northeast Harbor during the school year.

In 2012, Amy introduced institute Fellows to yoga (breathing in, stretching out and opening the mind) as a way to support student engagement with writing. Amy’s work with third grade teacher Rebecca Heniser and her students can be seen on the Edutopia website as part of its series on “Schools That Work.”

Amy returned in 2013 as a course mentor to support our 2013 Institute Fellows. Each year, she has demonstrated a special brand of quiet leadership that supports others as they grow and pursue their own interests while helping to build a cohesive community of writers and teachers.


David Farady is in his third year teaching 9th grade writing and literature at Erskine Academy in South China, Maine.  He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing and English from The University of Maine at Farmington, an MAT in English Education from Boston University, and he attended The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies (located in Portland, Maine) with a focus on non-fiction writing and editing.

Relevance is David’s guiding principle in teaching, and during the 2013 July institute he inspired other fellows with his nontraditional choices in the texts he uses to grab the attention of his students and encourage critical thinking.  As his teaching demonstration description stated, “If you struggle with getting kids excited about creative writing…and if you want to look at
questionably (in)appropriate art and brainstorm questionably (in)appropriate stories, then this workshop could be fun for you.”

David proudly notes living in Hallowell, “the smallest city in Maine where it is written in the town by-laws that every major holiday must be accompanied by a parade.” He most enjoys catching live music and losing himself in the western Maine mountains.

The Wilhelm Fellow Award was established in celebration of the contributions made to the Maine Writing Project and the educational community of Maine by our former site director, Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Recent recipients include Teri Brown ’09, Susan Sandler ’09, Patsy Baldus ’10, and Pete St. John ’11.

TC Spotlight: Woody Woodsum, poet.

Happy Summer, MWP friends!  We want to make sure all of you have a chance to know and read the work of Douglas “Woody” Woodsum, who completed the MWP Summer Institute in 2008.   Read about him here, and then check out his impressive collection of published works.


Woody grew up in Maine and earned degrees in English from Middlebury, Denver University, and Michigan, where he won two Hopwood Awards. He worked at Bread Loaf in the Green Mountains for fourteen years, and studied at both the School of English and the Writers Conference. A former Ruth Lilly poet, Woody won the Bread Loaf Poetry Prize and a Maine Times fiction prize. In 1995, he changed his focus from his own writing to teach high school English first in Oakland, Maine and now at Carrabec High School in North Anson. With his students, he has published over a dozen anthologies of oral history, folklore, and creative writing. Two collections are abridged on CDs.  Woody and his wife, the artist, Donna Asmussen, live in Smithfield, Maine. He’s published poetry and prose in dozens of magazines, newspapers and anthologies. His book, The Lawns of Lobstermen, is available from


excerpt from “Ode: To Trees”

You giants, you dwarves; you leaners, you poles;
you gnarled fists, you saplings with two leaves;
you bare harbingers of cold, you budding
heralds of green . . . I sing your praise.

-Woody Woodsum


Woody, on the highlights of his time with the Maine Writing Project’s Summer Institute:

“The biggest highlight from my MWP institute was the incredibly positive, nurturing, and upbeat cadre. At the same time, we were still critical and professional as we posed hard questions and held each other to high standards. My teaching demonstration did not go well, I was told, but I still felt supported. A lot of my previous professional development was a more begrudging experience, a sort of the-beatings-will-continue-until-morale-improves experience. Often my colleagues and I had serious questions about the pedagogical value. Not so at MWP. The required reading alone, taught me so much more than I had ever learned about teaching before (except from experience). Two other highlights were vastly improving my computer and technology competencies (note the two CDs above) and, finally, writing much more prose than I usually do.”


Woody, on how the MWP influenced his work as a writer:

“My MWP provided me with a new network of colleagues. I find teaching draining, both emotionally and physically, so it’s easy for me to let my writing life slip away. But my colleagues in the MWP have kept me involved in the annual spring writing retreat, Poetry Out Loud, publishing in the anthology, being a Poet in Residence, and submitting some of my MWP work (including the aforementioned prose) for publication. My 2008 MWP colleague, Clare Caddell, wrote in our anthology that “lasagna” was her favorite Italian word. That thought always stuck with me, and, much later, I wrote and published my poem “Amore” in Maine Magazine. My poem’s first line is “always, I have loved the word ‘lasagna.'” Thanks Clare and MWP.”


 Woody’s future writing plans:

“I plan to put together a new book-length poetry manuscript and an abridged chapbook version. I hope to find a publisher for both of them, and I plan on sending groups of poems to magazines as I always have. I’m in a poetry group again, finally, after many years of hiatus. We meet every two weeks, and that pressure to write to “deadline” helps. A year ago, I bought a boat, and I’m learning how to fish in fresh water (both liquid and frozen). A few fishing poems are coming along.”


Woody’s writing can be found in the Beloit Poetry Journal, on Fishousepoems, the English Journal, his wife’s website:  and on the website of his publisher, Moon Pie Press. 

excerpt from “Blackberry War”

I do not often go looking for black.
Afraid of the old dark all my life, I’ve learned
To be in darkness and control my fear,
Learned how rare it is to find true darkness.
It’s found deep in new moon woods on starless nights
Or in the windowless cellar of a house
With the door shut tight at the top of the steps
And the metal bulkhead padlocked outside.
War is another way into the black:
The tracers and coffins I need not recount.

-Woody Woodsum


Thank you, Woody, for your inspiration, and congratulations on your success.  Write on!

Image Description: Woody headshot

MWP Promising Practicies Conference, this summer!

As the school year is winding down, and you take the leap into the summer season, please keep the following date in mind and save it for the University of Maine Writing Project’s new Promising Practices Conference.

On July 11, 2013, your presence is requested as The University of Maine Writing Project hosts our Promising Practices Conference on the University of Maine Campus. This day will feature our 2013 fellows as they showcase their teaching demonstrations. They want our feedback.  We all can relate to that, right?

9:00 am -4:00 pm at Donald P. Corbett Hall (next to Shibles).

The day will include:
–    time to connect with the 2013 fellows
–   time to reconnect with fellow TCs
–    meet and greet  MWP leaders
–    lunch (on the house)
–    writing time on your own
–     door prizes
–    contact hours

Please contact the conference coordinator Kristina McBean with any questions and if you plan to attend.

Image Description: Workshop-1

TC Spotlight: Natalie Davis

The Maine Writing Project is pleased to introduce you to High School English Teacher Natalie Davis!  Natalie has some amazing ideas about increasing student investment by writing to an authentic audience.  There is a take-away in her interview for every teacher of writing.  Enjoy!


Natalie Davis earned her BS in Secondary Ed at UMaine Farmington and graduated with honors. She taught one year of  8th grade ELA in South China, Maine, and has since been teaching 9th grade English in Old Town. So far at Old Town High, she has created 9th Grade Teams, directed a student-staffed writing center for a year, and currently co-advises the student council.  Natalie attended the Maine Writing Project in 2009 and was a mentor in 2011.  In 2012, she earned her Master’s Degree in Literacy at UMaine.

Natalie, on the highlights of the MWP:
“Without a doubt, the best thing about my time in the summer institute was making 13 amazing, new friends. I don’t think I could have had as much fun or learned as much about teaching and myself as I did without each and every one of the teachers from my summer.  We are so often alone in our classrooms, and we forget that there are other dynamic, innovative teachers out there striving for camaraderie and support.”

Natalie, on how her teaching has changed since the MWP:
“I walked away from my summer institute ready to change the world, but I also knew that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed support and help. I am fortunate to work closely with the wonderful, smart, witty 2010 MWP TC, Megan Watson. In the four years we’ve worked together, we have created and tweaked a new, progressive freshman curriculum.  Without my time in the Writing Project,  I would not have been as open to the kinds of collaboration and planning we do. For me, the summer institute solidified the idea that as a teacher, I cannot and should not be an island.”

Cool things Natalie does with kids with writing: Authentic Audience!  It really works.

Portfolios, shared with a “keeper”
“I enjoy, very much, working with my freshman students because their growth is so evident.  Megan and I use mid-year and final portfolios in our classes (thanks, Rich – Room 109 is dog-eared and sticky-noted). They compile all of their writing from a semester into one place, including revisions and at least one new piece.  They then write a letter to the reader reflecting on their work. We ask them to share all of this work with a “keeper” (a trusted, important adult, aka “authentic audience”!) who responds to their portfolio in a letter.

Freshmen enjoy seeing where they started and where they end up, and I think they most enjoy that TWO people write to them about their work. This assignment goes beyond the classroom, and having an authentic audience makes it worthwhile and real for the kids.”

Fairytales for Elementary School “Buddies”
“Students in English 9 Honors study a unit on fairy tales. They learned about the structure, archetypes, and history of the tales. As a culminating assessment we asked them to write a fairytale of their own. In the spring of 2010, our students composed fairy tales for a “buddy” at Old Town Elementary School. We partnered with two classrooms, students conducted interviews with their elementary buddies, and then they incorporated the elements we had studied as well as information about their buddy into a fairy tale for and about the younger student. Students submitted several drafts of their stories – until they were virtually perfect – and they illustrated them as well. When they were finished, we walked our freshmen to the elementary school where our students read the personalized fairy tales to their buddy. Our high school students were invested in making their fairy tales amazing, not because they wanted an A, but because there was a real person on the other side of this assignment.”

Letters to an Author
“This year, after completing a unit on the novel Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher, our students prepared a piece to send to the author. As part of an in-depth character analysis, students had to create a character credo using the voice of their assigned character. During the unit, they also used Crutcher’s words to create found poems. The kids chose one of these two assignments to polish, or they wrote a letter to the author about their reaction the novel.  We compiled roughly 40 assignments, and sent them off Chris Crutcher. The students had discovered earlier in the unit that Mr. Crutcher emails and tweets his readers (we asked him a question via twitter and got an almost immediate response), so they were confident that he would take the time to read their work. The idea that someone else cared about what they had to say motivated them to take time to edit and revise. Chris Crutcher emailed me back and said he planned to read every page and get back to us. There were 62, so we’re still waiting – but the investment the students showed in their writing was enough for me.”

On behalf of the MWP community, thank you Natalie, for your innovative and enthusiastic teaching of writing. 

Image Description: natalie head shot

Image Description: natalie books

Young Author Camps 2013

Each year MWP hosts several Young Authors Camps (YACs) around the state. YACs provide young writers an environment to:

  • explore different genres of writing, including autobiography, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction
  • develop their writing while working with experienced classroom teachers and Maine Writing Project teacher-consultants
  • celebrate their work and share their creative pieces in a relaxed atmosphere with peers and writing project mentors.

Here are the details of the  Young Author’s Camps for Summer 2013:

Maine Writing Project Young Authors Camp: University of Maine   Orono, Maine

July 8th to 12th    Grades 3-12    Price:  $125.00     ($110 per each additional child in family).  Fee includes morning snack, T-shirt and Anthology.

Maine Writing Project Young Authors Camp:  Benton Elementary School    Benton, Maine

July 8th to 12th    Grades 1-12       Price:   $115.00     ($100.00 each additional child in family).   Fee includes morning snack, T-shirt and Anthology.

Maine Writing Project Young Authors Camp:  College of the Atlantic     Bar Harbor, Maine

August 12th to 16th    Grades 3-12        Price:   $125.00     ($110 per each additional child in family).  Fee includes morning snack, t-shirt and Anthology.


To register your child, or for more information, contact:

Roxanne Lee: ( 207) 581-2412


For other YAC locations in Southern Maine please visit the Southern Maine Writing Project.

Image Description: young authors group photo

Image Description: young authors group ohot

Image Description: students working

Image Description: student working

Writing Ourselves–Annual Gathering of MWP Members

The Maine Writing Project membership will gather for a writing workshop conducted by award-winning author Monica Wood (When We Were the Kennedys, Any Bitter Thing, The Pocket Muse). We’re also serving a scrumptious luncheon… at no charge.

Writing Ourselves with Monica Wood

Monica will conduct a two-hour writing workshop titled
“Life Stories: Beginner’s Guide to Memoir and Personal Essay”

Buchanan Alumni House
160 College Avenue, Orono, Maine
Saturday, April 6th, 2013

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Registration & coffee
10:00 a.m.— Writing Workshop
12:00 noon — Luncheon
The afternoon is free for writing and mingling with friends

RSVP by March 25th – Space Limited

Contact: Roxanne Lee
(207) 581-2412

After the luncheon, the 2013 Fellows will attend orientation. We suggest that TCs take time for their own writing life or to visit with MWP friends. If you have any questions, please write. We hope to see you on April 6th.

Image Description: Monica Wood


Contact Information

Maine Writing Project
5766 Shibles Hall, Room 315
Orono, Maine 04469
Phone: 207. 581.2492 | Fax: 207.581.2447E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System