Youth Writing Conference

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Make Your Statement Write Your Story


Ozarks Writing Project (OWP) invites students in grades 5-8 to the Missouri State University campus for a day of writing. Some of the most talented teacher-writers in southwest Missouri will conduct sessions designed to inspire students to Make Your Statement, Write Your Story. Workshop topics include bullet journaling, a positive social media presence, fractured fairy tales, postcards from Pluto, a writing marathon, and more.

Students will attend four workshops plus an opening session in Plaster Student Union (PSU) with a welcome by MSU President Clif Smart. This session, 8:50–9:15 AM, is open to the public.


Friday, May 11, 2018
8:45 AM – 2:30 PM


The day will begin with check-in and an opening session in the PSU Theater. Workshop sessions will be held in Strong Hall, a beautiful four-story building located just off Holland Avenue. It will comfortably hold all our classes, giving attendees the ability to mingle in one central location.

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Registration opens in March, 2018.




Our presenters need your help! Sign on to assist in providing 600 enthusiastic and motivated middle schoolers an amazing writing experience.

Volunteers are needed to do the following: 

  • Greet students with a smile.
  • Help students with activities.
  • Connect with students who do not have partners.
  • Give students encouraging feedback.
  • Escort students to restrooms.
  • Support presenters.
  • Assist with set up and clean up. 

Sign-Up to Volunteer via GivePulse


1. A Closer Look (gr. 5-6): Dig deep. Take a closer look at the things that shape you. Write and illustrate a sketch poem. (Annette Tankersley - Branson)

2. Beginner’s Guide to Blogging: Write for real readers on a platform designed for students. Learn from an experienced blogger. (Patricia Robbins - Marshfield)

3. Comic Cut-up: Using frames from well-known cartoonists, change the ending and add more details to create a comic in your own distinctive style. (Angelic Case and Sally Bagg - Branson)

4. Fanfiction: When you are a fan of a book or series, it may be hard to reach the end. With fanfiction, it doesn’t have to be over. Jumpstart with your writing with a fanfiction fanatic. (Sofie Kondro - Reeds Spring)

5. Fractured Fairy Tales (gr. 5-6): The Big Bad Wolf always gets a bad rap. Mash up a fairy tale and create a new ending with a different point of view. (Sandy Miller and Kelly Neal - Branson)

6. Freakish Fairy Tales (gr. 7-8): Fairy tales were once dark and scary for good reason. No more “Happily ever after!” Warn the world about important life lessons. (Susie Kinlock - Monett)

7. Heart Maps: Explore and write about what we all hold inside—feelings, hopes, vulnerabilities, passions, and wonderings. (Maggie Abrams - Plato)

8. Make a Statement: Wreck a journal. Color, cut, paste, write, and share and make your story come alive. (Brittny Rogers - Republic)

9. More than Words: You’re not just a writer; you’re also a scientist, artist, storyteller, and philosopher. What’s important to you? Try several kinds of writing and blend them up. (Jaime Brown - Nixa)

10. Myth and Movement: Experience movement as an inspiration for writing a myth. A dance instructor will guide you through this writing experience. (Tami Franklin - MSU)

11. Poetry Speaks: Performance poets from MSU will be your instructors. They will provide the prompts, give you performance tips, and give you a chance to shine. (Taylor Vinson - MSU)

12. Postcards from Pluto (gr. 5-6): What’s it like to live on another planet? Travel the galaxy and send a postcard home describing life in space. (Amber Kirbey - Willard)

13. Ramp It Up: If you’ve got a scar, you’ve got a story. Write about experiences common to us all and ramp up your writing with strategies proven to make it worth reading. (Laurie Buffington - Laquey)

14. Science and Story: Observe phenomena from the natural world; then convey your impressions with a paragraph, poem, or a song. This session is lead by a scientist who is a big proponent of writing. (David Cornelison - MSU)

15. Social Media Star (gr. 7-8): Maximize your positive social media presence. Learn how to positively impact your life and thousands, potentially millions, of other lives.  (Audra Vanhooser - Bolivar)

16. Superhero Comics: Comic book writer Cody Walker, who can’t go more than 15 minutes without thinking about Batman, will instruct you in creating superheroes and writing your own comic book. (Cody Walker - Marion C. Early)

17. That’s Funny: Release your humor with parody writing. Make fun of a movie, commercial, or song. (Amy Sampson - Monett)

18. What’s My Story? Write, talk, draw, and create identity charts, masked poems, and image galleries to learn who you are, what you know, and how your story fits into the world. (Casey Daugherty - Republic)

19. Words with Friends: Do you love words? Collect them in magazines, books, and newspapers and play with them to create found poetry. (April Smith - Monett)

20. Writing Marathon: Set yourself free to write in several campus locations under the supervision of an experienced marathon leader. (Betsy McQueen - Branson)