Using the Young Writers Project to teach writing
There are so many reasons to appreciate how we teach adolescents to write in Vermont. One of these gifts is the resource of the Young Writer’s Project.
Let’s look at what makes this online resource so powerful for educators to present as an option for students looking to explore their writers’ identities.
Young Writer’s Project seeks to give a voice to adolescent writers. Close to 1,000 people around the country are members – ranging in geography from California, and Texas, but the majority are in Vermont.
On the site, students can share their own original writing, photography, and digital art.
Everyone can access the site’s materials for free; its goal is to help young people “develop the confidence and communication skills necessary to shape their world”.
Why it works for teaching writing
They gain feedback about their work from trusted members of the YWP community, whose readers are made up mostly of students, but also of teachers and artists.
Students get supportive and specific feedback on their writing and are encouraged to give others feedback. Anyone can create a new account but the membership is heavily moderated, so as to create a maximally supportive and nurturing environment for young writers. This is a deliberately safe and constructive space for students to explore their identities as authors.
Here’s an example of some writing and feedback:
This is a great resource that you as an educator can direct students to, so they can connect with their peers and begin to explore the critical feedback loop in a constructive manner.
Young Writers Project is a (potentially) excellent example of an extended learning community engaged in work of personal meaning for an authentic audience. It reflects much of the design, thinking and cultural foundation that may be important for any extended community platform.
How do educators use the Young Writers Project?
Teachers love many things about YWP. They often use the site’s Daily Challenges for writing prompts to use with students. Students post their responses to prompts in the hopes of getting published.
There are also a variety of informal learning experiences on the site, called Labs. Anyone on the site can stop in and complete some skills building exercises to learn and practice particular skills.
These labs could be a great practice resource in the classroom, extra credit activities, or just a bit of extra help for someone interested in a specific skill. Some labs build on each other to eventually impart a complicated set of skills.
How could you see using Young Writers Project with your students?
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