Free Resources for Writing Teachers

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The web makes searching for teaching ideas easy, but there’s SO MUCH out there. If you’re keen on teaching the WITS way, check out the Digital Resource Center. It was created by Teachers and Writers Collaborative and contains tried and true lesson plans, as well as archives from their magazine, and excerpts from the books they publish. This site contains great, free resources for writers who teach and teachers who write.

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New Book Makes Strong Case for Writers in Schools Programs

9781441111944Forthcoming from Bloomsbury in January 2014, Terry Ann Thaxton’s book Creative Writing in the Community makes a powerful statement in favor of the expansion of Writers-in-Schools programs. Here’s some of the buzz surrounding the new book:

“Terry Ann Thaxton’s thorough and thoughtful guide to community-based creative writing programs mixes inspiring stories with concrete strategies to turn inspiration into action. The voices gathered in Creative Writing in the Community make the strongest possible case for the value of the literary arts and convey the joy of helping students
find their voices as writers, whether those students are seven or seventy years old.” – Amy Swauger, Director, Teachers & Writers Collaborative

Creative Writing in the Community is a unique, comprehensive guidebook – an indispensable, whole-hearted resource both for aspiring writing teachers and practicing writers who, like the author, believe that the union of creative writing and service based learning can build confidence and generate, in learners from all walks of life, a sense of hope, possibility, and purpose.” – Michael Steinberg, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University and co-author (with Robert Root Jr) of Those Who Do, Can; Teachers Writing, Writers Teaching (1996)

From the publisher: Each chapter is packed with easy-to-use resources including: specific lesson plans; case studies of students working with community groups; lists of suitable writing examples; “how to…” sections; examples and theoretical applications of creative writing pedagogy and techniques; reflection questions; writings by workshop participants. Enhanced by contributions from directors, students and teachers at successful public programs, Creative Writing in the Community is more than an essential guide for students on creative writing courses and leaders of community-based learning programs; it is practical demonstration of the value of art in society.

Terry Ann Thaxton is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Central Florida and the founder of Literary Arts Partnerships. Other directors and leaders of WITS Alliance programs who authored chapters are Terry Blackhawk, Allen Gee, David Hassler, and Robin Reagler. To pre-order the book, click here. It will be officially released in January 2014.

Free Resources for Teaching Poetry in the Schools

House of Colors by Judy Kaufman
House of Colors by Judy Kaufman

Teaching poetry can be tricky. Here are some great links that may help.

Please add your favorite teaching resources in the comment section below.

 

WritersCorps Live in the City by the Bay

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On March 7, 2013, WritersCorps and the Contemporary Jewish Museum joined forces for the third year to present WritersCorps Live at the CJM, featuring award-winning author Tamim Ansary, along with WritersCorps teaching artist Minna Dubin, and 8 students from 8 different WritersCorps sites in San Francisco.

As an organization employing professional writers and teaching creative writing to underserved youth, it is important to us at WritersCorps to have a connection to the city’s literary scene, which is exactly why we participate in public events. A bit about us: we are a joint project of the San Francisco Public Library and the San Francisco Arts Commission and have helped nearly 18,000 youth from neighborhoods throughout San Francisco improve their literacy and increase their desire to learn. We publish award-winning publications, produce local and national events, and are part of a national alliance with sites in the Bronx and Washington, D.C. In 2010, we were honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House, presented to us by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Before the reading began, about 80 WritersCorps students were treated to a private tour of Kehinde Wiley’s exhibit “World Stage: Israel,” by interns from CJM’s Teen Art Connect program. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the thought-provoking art and group discussion.

After the tour, students enjoyed some pizza while Tamim Ansary fielded their questions about being a professional writer, and signed their copies of West of Kabul, East of New York. (Thank you to Picador for their generous donation of copies of the book for our students!)

Savannah from Downtown High School started the reading off with a poem called “How to Dance with Wolves.” She was followed by DeAsia, from the WritersCorps Apprentices program, who read a poem that she shared on KALW’s Crosscurrents a few days earlier (check it out here).

Another highlight included Karla, from Hilltop High School, sharing a brave and moving piece on motherhood. Two of our students at the Woodside Learning Center inside the Juvenile Justice Center were represented by two short films of their poems which were screened.

Finally, our featured reader, the award-winning writer Tamim Ansary, treated us to an excerpt from West of Kabul, East of New York, his memoir about his family’s immigration from Afghanistan to San Francisco.

We are always happy to offer a space for our students to share their work and to let the community in on what we are doing.

The next WritersCorps event is Poetry Projection Project — a short film fest based on youth writing — on Saturday, April 13, 2 pm, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. More info on that here.

Alexandra Wilder

Program Associate, WritersCorps

WITS Alliance Goes to Boston

boston_small by nina goffi in poets & writers
Boston by Nina Goffi
published in Poets & Writers 2011

WITS Alliance Schedule of Events
AWP 2013 in Boston
Hynes Convention Center

WITS Alliance Booth # 210

Wednesday, March 6
WITS AWP Day of Service
12:00-4:00 p.m.

WITS Alliance Membership Meeting
Room 209, Level 2
4:30-5:45 p.m.

Thursday, March 7
WITS Writers on Teaching: A Reading
Lacy M. Johnson, Giuseppe Taurino, Miah Arnold, Stacy Parker Le Melle, Nicole Zaza
Room 102, Plaza Level
10:30-11:45 a.m.

A Reading from Writers in the Schools [WITS Alliance]
Alise Alousi, Bao-Long Chu, Michael Dickman, Tim Seibles
Room 201, Level 2
1:30-2:45 p.m.

Rowing Your Boat across the Curriculum [WITS Alliance]
Amy Swauger, Sarah Dohrmann, Margaret Dougherty-Goodburn, Andrew Proctor, Terry Ann Thaxton
Room 102, Plaza Level
4:30-5:45 p.m.

WITS Alliance Reception
Room 303
7:00-8:15 p.m.

Friday, March 8

Informal Drop-In Breakfast 8:30 – 10:00

New Location: Sheraton lobby, near the Starbucks
Trident Booksellers and Cafe‎
338 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 267-8688
tridentbookscafe.com‎

Founder’s Toolkit: How to Start a Non- Profit in Your Own Backyard [WITS Alliance]
Long Chu, Allen Gee, Janet Hurley, Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Jerome Vielman
Room 102, Plaza Level
10:30-11:45 a.m.

Phillip Lopate Book Signing
WITS Alliance Booth #210
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Fundraising with Individuals – Crafting the Story [WITS Alliance]
Jack McBride, Kate Brennan, Lee Briccetti, Michele Kotler
Room 102, Plaza Level
3:00-4:15 p.m.

Saturday, March 9
Writing to Change the World: Social Justice and Youth Writing Programs [WITS Alliance]
Janet Hurley, Tamiko Ambrose Murray, Glenis Redmond, Christina Shea, Terry Blackhawk
Room 208, Level 2
12:00-1:15 p.m.

Where in the World is the Writer in Residence? [WITS Alliance]
Cecily Sailer, Alise Alousi, Tina Angelo, Josephine Jones
Room 102, Plaza Level
3:00-4:15 p.m.

Little Kids Write about the Big Apple

The book is out!  A POEM AS BIG AS NEW YORK CITY, a collaborative work by the talented students of Teachers & Writers Collaborative, hit the stores this month. With illustrations by Masha D’Yans  and a forward by Walter Dean Myers, this is a truly beautiful book. Here’s part of the publisher’s press release:

A POEM AS BIG AS NEW YORK CITY could only come out of the hearts and minds of New York’s schoolchildren.
Hundred of lines of poetry created by New York City students were collected and edited to form a single poem that
speaks with many voices. The project was organized by the Teachers and Writers Collaborative, a 40-year old
nonprofit organization that offers innovative creative writing programs for students and teachers throughout the five
boroughs. This beautifully illustrated picture book offers a kids-eye view of the sights, sounds, and soul of NYC, as
well as a chance for kids of every age to rediscover the Big Apple. “These are young people learning to celebrate the
ordinary and to transform that ordinary into the rich stuff of life,” says award-winning novelist Walter Dean Myers in
his Foreword. “They boldly discard the stale as they bring their own rich and unique inner visions to the page. I am
sometimes surprised at the talent represented here, but not the creativity. It is what young people are capable of
when given the chance.”

If you are interested in helping your students write about their own community, here are some lesson plans and teaching ideas that worked well for Teachers & Writers. Congrats to everyone at T & W!