I Love to Write, We Love to Write 2014

--by Deb Coyle

“ I liked how we could write whatever we want"
“I liked the marathon.”
“I liked how we didn’t have to use prompts and we had more freedom in our writing.”
“I liked how the slam poets came. It was fun listening to their poems!”
“I have enjoyed my time all week writing with my son. My goal was for him to find a community of writing peers and he has. I also wanted to stoke his passion for telling stories…and to be able to have him share and be encouraged by someone other than me. All achieved!"

These are just a few of the comments from some of the participants of the I Love to Write, I Love to Write2, and the We Love to Write summer writing workshops that took place June 23-27, 2014. There were four total workshops; two I Love to Write workshops for students that have completed second through fifth grade. One I Love to Write2 workshop for students that have completed sixth and seventh grade. One We Love to Write family workshop for students in second through eighth grade with adult family writing partners. All of the workshops were facilitated by Deb Coyle and Connie Healey. This was their thirteenth year of providing these workshops to the youth and families of Lincoln.

     Andrews Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus rocked with forty-one elementary writers in the mornings, eight middle school writers in the afternoons and 23 family writers in the evenings.  Each workshop spent one session participating in a writing marathon that spanned the University campus. Writers were inspired by the sculpture garden pieces, the classic college architecture, and ended with toes touching the Union fountain waters as they polished up their pieces of writing.  The writing marathon has been hailed by all to be the highlight of their workshop week.

     Each workshop had a guest speaker that brought insight and enthusiasm to the participants. Mr. Todd Tystad, a fourth grade teacher in the Lincoln Public Schools and a published writer, spoke with the I Love to Write students about ideas and publishing.  The Lincoln High Slam Poets brought excitement and ideas for social justice writing to the I Love to Write2 participants. Jeff Kurrus presented his insights of writing and publishing to the We Love to Write workshop.  He is the author of the book, “Have You Seen Mary” and the editor of the Nebraskaland magazine.

     The workshops followed a similar format each day. Students would be given a short presentation through literature about a genre of writing, reading like a writer, living a writer’s life, or ideas for writing. The largest portion of the time was for the student to work on their pieces of writing.  During this time, they would also seek advice from the facilitators or from any of the other writers at their table. The workshop ended each day with a time of sharing. Students could choose to read a portion of their work and ask for feedback from the rest of their writing peers. Loud spontaneous applause always followed for the writer.

      The Nebraska Writing Project has provided support, leadership and a venue for the past three summers for these youth writing workshops. NeWP is dedicated to the development of all future young writers in our community.