Melissa Legate and Jennifer Troester working the NeWP table at NETA


by Melissa Legate and Jennifer Troester Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:29

The Nebraska Writing Project once again partnered with the Nebraska Education Technology Association (NETA) to be part of the NETA Spring Conference at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha April 19-20.

This year’s partnership was coordinated by NeWP advisory board members Jennifer Troester and Melissa Legate, who communicated with NeWP’s executive director throughout the school year. As part of this partnership, NeWP was able to feature a slide in the NETA Conference slide deck that promoted our organization and linked to the NeWP webpage. Additionally, NeWP had the opportunity to publish an article written by one of our affiliates in a monthly NETA newsletter. This year’s article was written by Jennifer Troester about her O’Neill 8th grade class’s writing partnership with co-director Rachael Shah’s class of UNL preservice teachers and was featured in the April issue of the NETA newsletter. One additional perk of the NeWP-NETA partnership was NETA’s promotion of our Summer Institute in February through its email list.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of the partnership with NETA was the chance for NeWP to present two breakout sessions at the conference. However, with two NeWP members submitting proposals of their own, the organization was represented in four breakout sessions. The first was titled “Digital Collaborations Across Schools: How to Build a Strong Online Writing Exchange” by Jennifer Troester and Rachael Shah. NeWP TC Jenny Bruck presented a session titled “Using Online Tools to Conference Grade,” which received tremendously positive feedback from several attendees. Melissa Legate also presented at the conference with a session on “Digital Discussion: Sharing Students’ Learning, Thinking, and Writing.” And finally, Rachel Jank presented her session titled “Every Student Gets a Website.”

For both days of the conference, NeWP promoted the many activities our organization sponsors for teachers, students, and communities with special emphasis given to promoting the Summer Institute, to which teachers could apply until April 30. Dozens of Nebraska teachers from a variety of grade levels and disciplines stopped by the information table and spoke with NeWP representatives Jennifer Bruck, Sarah Kroenke, Melissa Legate, Rachael Shah, and Jennifer Troester about what NeWP stands for and the opportunities it provides. Nearly thirty people gave their contact information in order to receive more information about NeWP and future events.

Also on Thursday, NeWP had the opportunity through the NETA partnership to host an evening event after the day’s final session. Jennifer Troester and Melissa Legate coordinated a Speed Geeking event in which participants could share their favorite educational technology strategies in presentations of five minutes or less. This year’s event was attended by Melissa and Jennifer, as well as advisory board member Brenda Larabee, her colleague, and Katie Morrow of ESU 8. Earlier promotion in future years should hopefully yield stronger attendance at this event.

The NETA conference continues to be an excellent way for NeWP to connect with passionate and innovative educators all across Nebraska and get the word out about the many quality programs our organization offers.

NeWP participants with party hats and masks on

Join us May 4 for the NeWP Spring Gathering

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:27

Please join us for our annual Spring Gathering Friday May 4 6-8 PM on the UNL campus. We will celebrate the year's events and participants, hear readings from Young Writers and Veterans and National Park outreach, and honor the year's teaching and administrative award winners. We hope to see you there!

NeWP Spring Gathering

Join us!

May 4th, 2018
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
UNL City Campus Union, Heritage Room
14th and R Streets

2018 Agate Writer’s Workshop – Women of the West: Strength in the Nebraska Panhandle

by Diana Weis Wed, 03/28/2018 - 13:05

Spring is here! And so is your invitation to carve away some time to be creative and re-energize this summer at the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument Teachers Writing Workshop and Writing Marathon this summer, July 16 – 18, 2018.

“Exploring the Women of the West: Strength in the Nebraska Panhandle” marks the third year the Monument is collaborating with the Nebraska Writing Project to offer teachers of all disciplines and grade levels the opportunity to learn new strategies to integrate science, language arts, and social studies with writing. Workshop participants will not only delve into the many resources of Agate Fossil Beds, but also at select sites on the Pine Ridge Reservation and at Fort Robinson State Park. Workshop registration closes on June 30th.

Teacher participants of the 2018 Agate Teacher Writing Workshop will be immersed in place-based writing exercises, readings, and discussions. In “Exploring the Women of the West: Strength in the Nebraska Panhandle,” participants will uncover in the history of Agate through the women of the late 1800-1900s. Participants will explore paleontology from women’s perspectives—both historic and modern; discover the voice of an African American woman in the Nebraska Panhandle in the 1880s; learn from Lakota women and their art; and consider the contributions of the women of the Agate Springs Ranch, the land from which this national park unit originated.

Past participants have come from every corner of Nebraska for this opportunity to network and share their ideas about cross-curricular writing. All have left with a rich sense of writing through place, science and history.

Scheduled Talks

  • “Paleontology: A Woman’s Perspective”by Ellen Stepleton, a retired fossil preparator from the University of Nebraska State Museum (confirmed)
  • “Octavia Reeves, an African American woman in the Nebraska panhandle in the 1880s”by Holly Counts, an independent historian (confirmed)
  • “American Indian Women and their art” by Audrey Jacobs, museum educator, Red Cloud Indian School Heritage Center (confirmed)
  • “The contributions of women ranchers” by Gretchen Meade, great-granddaughter of Agate homesteader James Cook and the granddaughter of paleontologist, geologist, and writer Harold Cook (confirmed)
  • “Agate museum collection and artifacts” by Maryann Neubert, NPS museum curator (confirmed)

Scheduled Activities

  • A ranger-led tour of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, including of the Red Cloud artifacts in the park’s museum collection
  • A tour of the The Heritage Center at the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, SD
  • Access to primary sources from the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument museum collections
  • Visits to the Fort Robinson State Park, including site of the Red Cloud Indian Agency
  • A Monday evening cookout with National Park Service rangers and staff

Workshop Information

Registration is available through June 30th at or by contacting Jan Knispel at


July 16-18th




Participants will need to make their own lodging accommodations.

Accommodations can be made at:

  • the Sage Motel ( in Harrison, NE (the community nearest the park)
  • the Quivey House Bed and Breakfast in Mitchell, NE
  • Comfort Inn, Days Inn, Hampton Inn and Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Monument Inn and Suites, or other hotels in Scottsbluff and Gering, NE
  • Fort Robinson State Park in Crawford, NE (Nebraska Game and Parks Commission)
  • Tent and RV campsites outside of the park ( Refrigeration is available at the park for those tent camping.

If you would like to split the cost of a room with a roommate, please choose the option at this registration link, and you will be connected with another teacher to make arrangements. Questions about accommodations can directed to Alvis Mar at


For additional information, access the workshop brochure here

To register for the workshop, complete and submit the online application at

You can also contact Park Ranger Alvis Mar, (308) 665-4110,, or Jan Knispel, for more information

“By examining, reflecting upon and analyzing through writing the contributions of the uncelebrated—yet phenomenal—women of this remarkable landscape, teachers can create learning opportunities for their students that will lead them to better understand the factors that have molded our nation’s collective heritage. What better place than a national park–like Agate Fossil Beds National Monument– to find those lessons and revelations?” – James Hill, Agate Fossil Beds Park Superintendent James Hill