NMU Launches Northern Shores Storywork Writing Project Site

NMU academic logo

Northern Michigan University has launched the Northern Shores Storywork Writing Project Site, an initiative that aims to support teachers in developing their own writing skills and teaching practices, ultimately enhancing student achievement in writing across the Upper Great Lakes region. It is part of the prestigious National Writing Project (NWP) network.

The site will offer a range of programs, including professional development workshops, summer institutes, writing marathons and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. All are designed to cultivate a vibrant community of educators committed to improving writing instruction and promoting writing and creativity in the region.

NMU English Professor Kel Sassi and Native American Studies Professor April Lindala are co-directors of the Northern Shores Storywork Writing Project Site.

"I am thrilled to bring the National Writing Project's proven model of teacher development back to Northern Michigan University with our new focus on decolonizing writing,” said Sassi, who formerly directed the Red River Valley Writing Project in North Dakota. “Our goal is to empower educators to become better writers and, in turn, better teachers of writing. This will have a lasting impact on their students and the broader educational community.”

The NWP, which is celebrating its 50th year, is a nationwide network of about 180 local sites, where educators work together to improve the teaching of writing in schools and communities. Its key objectives include professional development, community building, student achievement and innovation in writing.

The NMU Northern Shores Storywork site is inspired by Indigenous relationship to story. The term storywork stems from Indigenous scholar Jo-Ann Archibald.

“When we write, we are communicating a message, in some cases a story,” said Lindala. “Storywork emphasizes the significance of story sharing. There is a responsibility of not only the person telling the story, but the audience, and even attention to space where the story is being shared is an important consideration. This is something we believe to be important to include in our work with teachers that will make our site distinctive from other NWP sites.”

Upcoming events include an Invitational Leadership Institute for teachers in the third week of July, with follow-up meetings in the fall. Through a competitive process, 14 Upper Peninsula educators were accepted into the institute, which focuses on critical information literacy and archival research, supported by a Library Services and Technology Association grant. Lindala and Sassi are collaborating with NMU Archivist Marcus Robyns, who is serving as the primary investigator for the grant to host the institute. 

Sassi is also leading a seasonal book group for teachers, which launched June 26 with a discussion about Ojibwe scholar Anton Treuer's Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians but Were Afraid to Ask. Other planned events include the inaugural Marquette Writing Marathon on Thursday, Sept. 12, and the Dead Writers Reading on Wednesday, Oct. 30. 

The Northern Shores Storywork Writing Project site will also serve as an affiliate for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, promoting excellence in writing and art among teens. An annual competition takes place in the fall with submissions being judged within a designated region and regional winners then competing nationally. 

NMU formerly hosted the Upper Peninsula Writing Project from 1996-2006 under the direction of Suzanne Standerford and the Northern Shores Writing Project under the direction of Lisa Eckert from 2014-2016. The current site, which officially re-joined the NWP network this spring, is supported by the following NMU entities: Graduate Studies and Research; English Department; School of Education; Center for Native American Studies; and Library and Instructional Support.

For more information, contact Lindala at alindala@nmu.edu or 906-227-1397, or Sassi at ksassi@nmu.edu or 906-227-2674. For upcoming events, follow the Northern Shores Storywork Writing Project NWP website at nwp.org/sites/northern-shores-storywork-writing-project.  

Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Around NMU, Strategic Plan