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From Young Writers Camp to Young Adult Literacy Labs: CT Connecticut-Fairfield Finds New Ways to Revitalize Youth Programs

Summary: The Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield’s adaptation of its traditional Young Writers Camp to a series of Young Adult Literacy Labs (YALLs) provides food for thought for site leaders designing new or considering changes to existing youth programming. The primary change was a move away from two large general writing camps to a dozen smaller genre-specific camps. The change, while attracting more participants, also allowed the site to integrate the camps and the Invitational Institute in some innovative ways, including creating opportunities for camp instructors to present workshops that engaged teachers and young writers in writing together. Importantly, the camps provide the site with a robust revenue line that fully supports the YALLs, provides student scholarships, and generates income for other site activities.

Are You the Teacher Who Gives Parents Homework?

Author: Carole Chin

Summary: In this chapter from the NWP publication, Cityscapes, an elementary teacher describes how she uses the writing of students and their families to build community, honor family cultures and languages, and provide a forum to address fears, anxieties, and concerns. Threaded through the narrative are many suggestions for activities that teachers might adapt to their own settings and communities.

Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar: Jack Powers, Poetry & A Career of Teaching Writing

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We kick-off National Poetry Month by visiting with poet and teacher Jack Powers, celebrating the publication of his new book, Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar. We’ll also discuss his successful career in teaching writing as a National Writing Project fellow and ways to celebrate National Poetry Month throughout April.


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Writing Our Future Through Family Literacy Projects (NWP Radio)

Summary: In this NWP Radio Show, writing project leaders discuss their family academic literacy projects, developed as part of the Writing Our Future Initiative. Based in high-needs schools around the country, this work provides support and interactive programming for English Language Learners grades K-3 and their families. This resource can support NWP sites and groups of teacher leaders to understand some of the questions and issues involved in developing these programs, and provides models for adaptation.

Understanding Community Literacies as Foundational to Teaching Excellence

Author: Toni M. Williams, Diane DeFord, Amy Donnelly, Susi Long, Julia López-Robertson, Mary E. Styslinger, and Nicole Walker

Summary: This article from the NCTE journal Language Arts reviews several professional books that explore issues of equity and access. The books reviewed share the view that, as educators, we can support academic success for all students by expanding understandings about home and community literacies. It would be useful as a resource for study groups and teachers searching for books for their professional libraries, while others will find useful information on community literacies in the reviews themselves.

The Ubuntu Academy: An Immigrant and Refugee Youth Writing Camp

Summary: Ubuntu, a Bantu word that translates as “I am, because we are,” is the guiding philosophy behind the CT-Fairfield Writing Project’s two-week literacy lab designed to invite immigrant and refugee youth into writing spaces that honor their heritage and promote academic success. This innovative approach to youth writing camps will be a valuable read for sites looking for ways to reach out to underserved populations who might not otherwise have access to youth writing camps and enrichment opportunities.

Change the Readings, Change the Site: Addressing Equity and Access

Author: Wilma Ortiz and Karen Sumaryono

Summary: Recognizing that while their site programs were primarily serving the needs of suburban teachers in a service area that encompassed a large population of urban schools, teacher leaders at the Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield named as a site priority the need to diversify site leadership. In order to be responsive to the contexts and needs of urban teachers and students, they examined and subsequently revised the readings in their programs putting “front and center works that signaled openness to discussions about race, culture, and language.” Of particular interest to teacher leadership teams working to address issues of equity and access at their own sites are the suggested readings included in the additional related resources.

Youth Camp Agendas, Outlines, and Schedules

Summary: Starting a new youth writing camp at your site? Looking to infuse new ideas, writing activities, or approaches in your existing youth programs? Looking for creative and innovative ways in which other sites are using “out-of-school” spaces to engage young writers? If so, then this collection of youth camp resources could be a “go-to” resource.  In this collection you will find help with getting started (program overviews and orientation agendas), planning (camp outlines and descriptions), recruiting (invitations to TCs and potential partners), advertising (flyers and registrations), and successfully running (agendas, lessons, protocols) your youth program. Browse through the materials for an overview of possibilities or dig deeply into the collection for an in-depth look at what it takes to develop and host successful programs for young writers.

Teachers, Park Rangers #WriteOut for Learning

A unique collaboration encouraged educators to take their students out of classrooms and into public spaces and parks to write and create.


The Family Writing Project Builds a Learning Community in Connecticut

Author: Valerie Diane Bolling

Summary: Family writing projects are an powerful resource for families for whom English is not a first language and who are sometimes unfamiliar with the dominant school culture. The projects provide opportunities to build relationships among families, students and teachers while strengthening literacy. This article describes activities, structures and benefits of a family writing project developed in the Greenwich, Connecticut school community.