The following is the writing from the forward and the epilogue of POW! Power of Words, a publication at CWP-Fairfield. This is our 3rd edition and it's bigger and better than ever. A special shout-out to Caryn Sullivan for her steadfastness in getting this to press. Now, time to mail copies to the teachers and young adults who participated in this hard work.
In your hands is the 3rd publication of POW! The Power of Words and the culminating work of CWP-Fairfield’s 2015 summer programs. Each July and August, literacy opportunities abound and these pages represent Connecticut youth and local educators writing their lives in Young Adult Literacy Labs and an Invitational Summer Institute for teaching hosted at Fairfield University.
For the last several years CWP-Fairfield has listened to students about what (if at all) they write in school. Similarly, teachers and administrators are lamenting that test-only writing instruction is the new norm of Connecticut schools. That is why, in 2014, CWP-Fairfield did a formative experiment and asked three questions:
· What if we redesigned writing institutes into Young Adult Literacy Labs based on Writing Activity Genre Research?
· What if we mandated four criteria for each lab: (1) youth will write, (2) youth will read, (3) youth will talk with each other and (4) youth will have fun?
· What if we invited teachers into our youth labs to learn with the young writers?
Our emphasis has been on fun. We wanted to break down a few of the traditional walls and to restore playfulness in in the learning process. We’ve found success. The youth are reporting favorably about our summer programs and teachers feel inspired by their interactions with young writers. We are getting smarter together.
CWP-Fairfield believes in POW! The Power of Words and that young people have much to teach us. Last year, for instance, youth participants wanted a program to write politically and to learn digital tools. We heard what they had to say and added a TedTalk lab and Project Citizen to this year’s program. From listening to our youngest writers (those with the biggest imaginations), too, we gained knowledge that they wanted to be published. For this reason, we’ve included them in this year’s collection. The writing is passionate, playful, intriguing and, at times, doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. BAM! Bryan’s Appreciative Message goes to the 152 young people who contributed creativity, opinions, and research during the summer. It goes to Abu Bility, Lossine Bility, Steve Vissichelli, Shaun Mitchell, Ali Laturnau, Dr. Ryan Colwell, Tom Grund, Shannon Burr, Gina Forberg, Attallah Sheppard, Brynn Mandel, William King, Amanda Morgan, Jennifer von Wahlde, Cecily Anderson-Cowburn, Julie Roneson, and Caryn Sullivan who, as masked-educators, crusaded with extreme superpowers to launch:
• Little Lab for Big Imaginations: a Young(er) Writers’ Workshop.
• It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Writing Your Novel
• Speak Yourself: A Poetry and Playwriting Lab
• The Art of Storytelling: A Graphic Novel Lab,
• Stop the Presses! A Journalism Lab,
• Project Citizen: Write a Wrong!
• Ideas Worth Writing: A TED Lab.
• Who Do You Think You Are? College Essay & Narratives, and
• Ubuntu Academy: The Lab for Immigrant and Refugee Youth
Under their leadership, writers wrote their lives to express, critique, entertain, shock, educate, wonder, explore, and propose.
My appreciative message also goes to CWP-Fairfield partners helping to make the summer possible: a strong teacher network, our affiliation with the National Writing Project, State Senator Bob Duff, Fairfield University, Fairfield University Athletics, Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, JUHAN, the Office of Service Learning, Bridgeport Public Schools, and LEAP – Leaders Educated and Prepared. CWP-Fairfield can be what we are because of who we are together. There are few locations in southern Connecticut where young people and teachers representing multiple zip-codes are provided a space to learn together. We are proud of our democratic pastiche and feel,
Collaboration. Thinking. Reflection. Inquiry. This is writing, y’all! This is who we are.
KaPOW! (and Ubuntu),
Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall
Congratulations! You’ve reached the finish line of POW! The Power of Words and made it to Crandall’s THWACK-page! Sh’Zam! The summer redesign required ingenuity and results from Crandall’s twenty-plus years of classroom-teaching experience and writing research. THWACK! - This is How We Advance Creative Knowledge in literacy research. We share resources with one another.
CWP-Fairfield values the importance of teachers and students, as subjects, within writing communities. Redesigning Young Adult Literacy Labs in 2014 first began as a formative experiment (Fisher & Frey, 2009; Reinking & Bradley, 2008) built from writing activity genre research (Russell, 2010) and an intent to create a summer literacy model to effectively engage youth and teachers together (Chandler-Olcott, Nieroda, & Crandall, 2014). Following the National Writing Project’s reputation for transforming teachers (Whitney, 2008) we embrace effective practices in writing instruction (Applebee & Langer, 2013; Graham & MacArthur, 2013). More recently, we’ve focused on the ways that community matters within writing activity systems and, as a consequence, have embraced a philosophy of Ubuntu (Caracciolo & Mungai, 2009) - a Bantu word that translates “I can be me because of who we are together.” A good writer (or teacher of writing) is equipped with tools, clever rules, and a respect for individuality and personal motivations to reach written outcomes. They must belong.
THWACK! – One way to improve writing instruction in our schools is to put every writer at the epicenter of his or her world (Crandall, 2012). We need to allow them to write their lives!
Applebee, A. N., & Langer, J. (2013). Writing Instruction That Works: Proven Methods for Middle and High School Classrooms. New York: Teachers Chandler-Olcott, Nieroda, & Crandall (2014). Co-planning and co-teaching in a summer writing institute: A formative experiment. Teaching/Writing. The Journal of
Writing Teacher Education. 4, 1.
Caracciolo, D., & Mungai, A. M. (2009). In the Spirit of Ubuntu: Stories of Teaching and Research. Boston: Sense Publishers.
Crandall, B. R. (2012). "A Responsibility to Speak Out”: Perspectives on Writing From Black African-Born Males With Limited and Disrupted Formal Education. (Dissertation), Syracuse University.
Fisher, D. & Frey, N (2009). Meeting AYP in a high-need school: A formative experiment. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 52.5, pp 386-396.
Hillocks, George. The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning. New York: Teachers College Press, 2002.
Graham, S., MacArthur, C. A., & Fitzgerald, J. (2013). Best Practices In Writing Instruction (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
Reinking, D. & Bradley, B. (2008). On Formative and Design Experiments. New York: Teachers College Press.
Russell, D. R. (2010). Writing multiple contexts; Vygotskian CHAT meets the phenomenology of genre. In C. Baserman, R. Krut, K. Lunsford, S.
Whitney, A. (2008). Teacher transformation in the National Writing Project. Research in the Teaching of English, 43(2), 144-187.