The Bechtel Prize is named for Louise Seaman Bechtel, who was an editor, author, collector of children’s books, and teacher. She was the first person to head a juvenile book department at an American publishing house. As such, she took children’s literature seriously, helped establish the field, and was a tireless advocate for the importance of literature in kids’ lives.
2021 Bechtel Prize
For Innovation in Virtual Creative Writing Instruction
T&W is now accepting submissions of essays describing a virtual creative writing teaching experience, project or activity that demonstrates innovation in creative writing instruction. We are looking for essays that describe a project or activity that got students excited about writing and fostered a vibrant and dynamic culture of literacy in the virtual classroom. We welcome essays about projects that carved a space for students to reflect on the events of the past year (eg. public health, social distancing, racial justice protests, etc.).
The experience/project/activity should be one that:
- helped students identify as writers
- opened new pathways to creative writing
- engaged students in all parts of the writing process
- promoted connections between reading and writing
- supported the publication of student writing
The essay itself should:
- Share actual classroom experience, including sharing how students engaged with the project (in other words, this should not be a planned project, but rather one that has already taken place).
- Focus on the classroom experience and what makes it an innovative one.
- Focus on teaching creative writing (eg. poetry, fiction, playwriting). Please do not send essays that have to do with teaching academic writing or teaching literature, in general.
The essay selected to receive the Bechtel Prize will be published in Teachers & Writers Magazine, and the author will receive a $1,000 award.
The submission deadline is January 15, 2021.
General Selection Criteria
Selection criteria for the Bechtel Prize include the project’s relevance and appropriateness for readers of Teachers & Writers Magazine, most of whom teach writing at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level. Teachers & Writers Magazine publishes work that is concise, lively, and geared to a general audience. Prospective entrants for the Bechtel Prize are encouraged to visit the magazine to become familiar with the work of Teachers & Writers, and to read past published lesson plans and articles. The prize selection committee is made up of members of the editorial board of Teachers & Writers Magazine.
The 2020 Bechtel Prize
In 2020, we invited teachers/teaching artists to submit an innovative classroom project that supports student development as creative writers and thinkers. The prize was awarded to Amy Young for “Jibseria: A Garden Mythology.” We thank all of those who submitted projects and commend you for your creativity and dedication to your students.
Previous Bechtel Prize Winners
Amy Young, Jibseria: A Garden Mythology
Emily James, At First the Ground Shakes
Julie Landsman, Words, Images and Music: How We Enter
Christian McEwen, Alastair Reed: Traveling Light
Chris Belden, Inside Words: How to Teach Writing in Prison
Barbara Flug Colin, Now Let’s Stare at the Purple
Janet L. Bland, The Possum
Garth Greenwell, A Native Music: Writing the City in Sofia, Bulgaria
Emily Raboteau, A Slip Into the Breaks: Teaching Jazz Poetry
Michael Bazzett, Within Words: Making Students at Home in the Language of Literature
Anna Sopko, Writing Standards: Finding One’s Way with Words