Earlier last semester, the five sites given Supporting Effective Educator Development Summer Camp grants were challenged to think ahead to 2018 and to create 'Playlists' - online curriculum - for students beyond our individual states who might benefit from our summer instruction with argumentative writing. The first task was to draw three students and to outline to the other sites the three we chose and why - sort of creating caricatures for the types of students we serve and are fortunate to work with.
Last summer, we had 26 youth enrolled in Project Citizen: Flying Lessons from the Prose and this summer we hope to stay consistent. During the summer of 2018, the opportunity is called Project Citizen: Inking & Thinking with the Prose, and we are once again collaborating with Crown Books and their publications for the We Need Diverse books movement (shouting out to Ellen Oh for the first collection and Phoebe Yeh for being there for CWP!).
Last summer, Project Citizen served young people from Bridgeport, several suburban districts, five youth scholars from the Lakota nation, and one young man who relocated as a refugee from Burundi (check out some of the project posted by Simply Smiles: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Connecticut Writing Project) The camp was for 9th-12th grade and, for two weeks, kids discussed what it means to be a citizen, but also how they might write their worlds both as individuals and as collaborative community members and, with a nod to the title, citizens. Teachers and I were thrilled and awed by what the kids were able to accomplish (especially as they collaborated with Ubuntu Academy and the C(3)WP Teacher Institute for argumentative writing.
The three kids we're highlighting represent the variety of youth who we anticipate attending our summer work in 2018 (and I wanted to add a 4th kid, but didn't). We were told to do three, so that is what I drew before the holidays.
I started with Sunshine, humanitarian 9th grader who has traveled the world and who is passionate about reading and writing. She comes from a long lineage of movers and shakers, and she comes to CWP with enthusiasm, curiosity, a need to fit in, global experiences, and a thirst for a college education. She is political, she has numerous privileges, and she recognizes at a young age that sitting still will get her nowhere.
De'Von is a sophomore who had a teacher talk him into doing CWP even though he didn't want to go. He hates reading and detests writing. Still, when he came to campus, he realized that the books offered and the assignments/challenges given were right up his alley ("don't tell anyone," he says. "but I loved these books and these experiences"). Although De'Von proclaims he hates school, he does like to ask questions and to learn. He's working on his Eagle Scout award, enrolled in honors classes, and is trying to figure out this life thing.
Zuya, on the other hand, a name for Woman Warrior in the Lakota language, flew to CWP from a reservation school in S. Dakota. She is a junior, never left the reservation, and is scared to death of visiting CT (outside of NYC) and working with young people who don't share her cultural background. She is very proud of her traditions and family, and wants to make a name for the world she knows as a young person of Native American descent. She is with CWP as part of a special collaboration with Simply Smiles.
Dear Martin and Fresh Ink as this year's inspiring texts. Following Maine Writing Project sites, we're also wondering about working with the HAN network (a local news organization and/or radio stations to showcase the democratic work of these young people who are representing the diversity of this nation and what is possible when communities come together to share worlds, viewpoints, dreams, ambitions, hopes, and writing!
I told my colleagues, Dave Wooley of Westhill High School, Shaun Mitchell of Central High School, and Kim Herzog of Staples High School, not to judge the drawings from my writer's notebooks. I was thinking about these drawings in my office yesterday as I tuned syllabi and worked on upcoming summer work. They can laugh (as can you), but I really like having to think about the types of kids we want to serve, especially before we being to recruit and design curriculum.
This should be the way it is always done - shaping curriculum to meet the needs of kids, rather than kids to meet the needs of curriculum.