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|Project Title: ||Writer's Workshop|
|School Year: ||2006|
|School - District:||Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School - Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public (District)|
|Contact Name:||Coco Moran|
|Content-Area(s):||English Language Arts|
|Community Need:||Education, Elderly|
|Brief Description of SL Project: |
In this project, about twenty 4th and 5th grade students at Hilltown Cooperative Public Charter School partnered with twelve Elders at Hampshire Care in a Writer’s Workshop. Together they produced creative writing based on the Elders’ life stories and their experiences of childhood. The children learned language arts skills in a practical setting by practicing interviewing, creative writing, poetry, note taking, transcribing, proof reading, editing skills, and constructive feedback.
A community member and creative writing specialist first worked with the teacher and the children in the classroom to establish the format for the Writer’s Workshop program. In this program, the children were lead through a set of exercises intended to establish an “open space” for creative thought and experimentation to come through in writing, and then a “safe space” for whole group feedback and support to each writer.
|The Community Need the Project is Meeting:|
Students at Hilltown participate in our CSL program each year, beginning in Kindergarten. Each year they take part in aging sensitivity-awareness trainings that help them learn about the health and social needs of nursing home residents. Early on in these discussions they determine that the residents need company, fun and interesting things to do. They are able to recognize the isolation that comes from being disabled and living in an institution. By the time they reach 4th and 5th grade they clearly understand the needs and are ready to develop more complex projects that will engage their elderly friends.
|Service Component: |
This class visited Hampshire Care for 6 weeks, for an hour each time. 12 residents participated and were able to express themselves with beautiful and inspiring stories based on the prompts given by the students and writing specialist. The impact was clear on the faces of the elders as they revealed their creativity and wisdom to young people who were able to recognize its value.
|Connections with Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: |
The entire project revolved around the writing frameworks, from the pre-service practical training and writing exercises, to the writing with the residents. Assessments were done using Hilltown's competencies including both Composition and Language Skills. Expectations included the use of correct punctuation, the use of complete and compound sentences, indention of paragraphs, subject-verb agreement, etc. ELA standards 3.3, 5.6-5.7, 19.9-19.13)
|How Youth Voice Helps Shape Project:|
Youth voice was effectively used by the partnering of students and elders. These partnerships encourage equal power between students and adults and can foster opportunites to work together beyond age barriers.
Youth voice can also be used in a project like this if students are required to come up with the theme of the anthology, the story prompts they want to use in the interviews with their partners, and/or the research done pre-interview on the era in which their partners were children.
|Student Reflection Component: |
The questions for reflection included the following:
"1. Let's remember why we went to Hampshire Care (reflect on the goal).
2. What did you notice when we got there?
3. What did we do that worked well while we were there? Why did it work How did you feel?
4. What didn't work so well? (Why didn't it work. How did you feel?)
5. What should we try next time that might make it better?"
At the end of the six week program, the students reflected on what they learned. Some of the comments made by students included:
"The goal of this project was to bridge the gap between elders and us,"
"Even if we are different ages, we can connect,"
"I thought it was fun. My buddy could tell so many stories"
|Community Partners Involved: |
|Demonstration/Celebration of Students' Work: |
Kids and Elders celebrated by sharing their published books by reading aloud passages they wrote together and having party food.
|Evaluation of Project's Impact:|
Evaluations where done after each visit by the classroom and teacher, the teacher provided an end of service written evaluation, the Writers' Workshop program was evaluated separately, and the staff of Hampshire Care provided an end of year evaluation that included elders' comments.
|Challenges/Solutions Identified by District:|
The structure of the Writers' Workshop was designed for whole group participation and group feedback. This posed a problem for residents with hearing difficulties even when a microphone was used. Over the course of the six visits, the students preferred to have more creative control on providing the questions for the creative writing.
* NOTE: This project summary was written by the district/community. Any text in italics was added or modified by the Department (ESE). Most of these projects were supported with Learn & Serve America funds distributed through the ESE.