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Oregon Writing Festival 

Join us on Saturday, May 7, 2022, for the 37th Annual OWF (held virtually this year)


The Oregon Writing Festival takes place annually each spring, co-sponsored by Portland State University College of Education and OCTE.  Writers in grades 4-12  from across the state of Oregon gather in small groups, listen to published authors talk about their craft, share their work with peers from other schools, and compose new pieces in workshops run by local authors and teachers. Parents can also attend a workshop aimed at support budding writers at home.

The goals of the Writing Festival are

  • Cultivating a love of writing in students and teachers
  • Honoring the work outstanding student writers
  • Connecting student writers with Oregon authors and other student writers
  • Helping to hone students' writing skills

Get Involved

You can be involved in this energizing event by serving as a Day Group Leader, which involves escorting a group of 10 students at the 4 - 5, 6 - 8, or 9 - 12 level throughout the day and facilitating the session where students read the writing sample they brought for critique by the group. Interested?  Contact Janice Bahns at grandmabahns@yahoo.com.

Or, you can also engage as a Workshop Leader. As a Workshop Leader, you prepare a writing activity for a group of 15 - 20 students that takes about 2 - 3 minutes to introduce; the students write for 30 - 35 minutes and then they share their work for 15 - 20 minutes (total session time: 1 hour). Workshop Leaders teach two one-hour workshops (sometimes spaced between morning and afternoon) to two different groups of students at one of these grade levels: 4 - 5, 6 - 8, or 9 - 12. As a Workshop Leader, you can join us for breakfast and lunch, receive the much-coveted Holy Grail of writing: the Oregon Writing Festival coffee mug, and the chance to hear wonderful keynote authors. You can access the Workshop Leader proposal form HERE  or contact Maika Yeigh at myeigh@pdx.edu .

‚ÄčWorkshop Proposal Guidelines

Workshops are designed for students to write under the guidance of experienced teachers. Please prepare a writing activity, introduce it briefly (no more than 2 - 3 minutes), and allow maximum time for students to write; then share their work in a read-around, with brief comments by the Workshop Leader. The purpose of the workshop is to assist and encourage the students' writing. They benefit from active involvement in writing.

Workshop Proposals are due by mid-April.  Contact coordinator Maika Yeigh at myeigh@pdx.edu if you have questions.

Adult Workshop

An adult workshop will be offered for parents and teachers, conducted by Laurie Dougherty (Seaside School District) and Karen Johnson (Tigard-Tualatin School District), both past presidents of OCTE.

Student Writing Sample Guidelines

The general guideline for students' work is that it be a quality, finished product of their finest writing. They should bring writing that has been revised (based on some response from teachers, or parents, or other students), proofread, and put together in a polished final form The Festival is a celebration of the best work of our participants, and we expect them to bring work of the highest standards.

Students may write in any form or genre they choose, because the Festival is a celebration of all forms of quality writing--e.g., poetry, short stories, personal narratives, science reports. Writing should be school-appropriate to grade level--no gratuitous violence, language, or explicit sexual content.

Final drafts may be handwritten, typewritten, drawn, calligraphed, or word processed by their authors. The writing may be illustrated. Again, the main standard is quality.

Length: Up to 5 pages, but the reading aloud of it cannot exceed 4 minutes; longer pieces should summarize the rest.

Students should practice reading their pieces aloud with feedback from teachers or parents--so they will be prepared to give a stimulated, clear reading in their sharing groups.

Writing samples (bring 12 copies) should include the author's name, school and address, and grade.

Rick Hardt, Festival Chair

Student Registration Form available through School District contact only.

For additional information please contact:

Barbara Wiegele, OCTE


 Rick Hardt, Festival Chair


2022 Author Participants

Elizabeth Rusch, grades 4-5

Elizabeth Rusch is the author of over 100 articles in publications such as The New York Times, Smithsonian, Harper’s, and Portland Monthly, and she has published more than 20 books that have won awards and multiple starred reviews from The School Library Journal, Kirkus, Horn Book, and Publisher’s Weekly. They include The Mighty Mars Rovers; Mario and the Hole in the Sky, the true story of Mario Molina, the Mexican American scientist who helped solve the ozone layer question; and A Search for the Northern Lights, a mother-daughter story of an adventure-filled search for the amazing aurora borealis.

Rosanne Parry, grades 6 - 8

Rosanne Parry is the author of many award-winning books, including the heartwarming story of Brother who helps his grandparents keep the ranch going when his father ships off to war in Heart of a Shepherd. Parry’s Last of the Name tells the story of two Irish immigrant children trying to survive in New York City where they must compete with other immigrants. The book won the Oregon Spirit Book Award. And A Wolf Called Wander was on The New York Times bestseller list for 48 weeks, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and it landed on the Oregon Battle of the Books list in 2020-21.

Kim Johnson, grades 9 - 12

kim johnson photo credit Jboy photograph

Kimberly Johnson grew up in Eugene, graduated from the University of Oregon, and earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland.She returned to the UO in 2014, oversaw the Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence, and now is Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education and Student Success. In that role, she and her entire division “are engaged in helping students realize their dreams, with equity at the center of their work.”

In 2020, Kim Johnson published her amazing debut YA novel, This Is My America, which has won prestigious awards, including OCTE’s Oregon Spirit Book Award. The story explores infuriating racial injustice against innocent Black men who are criminally sentenced and their families. Here young Tracy Beaumont will not rest until her father, on Texas Death Row, and her brother, also wrongly suspected of murder, are exonerated.

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