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Working collaboratively with partners outside of the university, we exchange ideas and develop programs with the primary goal of improving writing. The programs below represent the heart of CSTW's literacy outreach work:
Survival of the Seventh Graders
Tornados, hurricanes, floods, vampire attacks… these are all scenarios that seventh graders at Linden-McKinley STEM Academy have survived, at least in their writing. Students began a unit on survival by working as a group to write stories on how they would survive specific situations. Throughout this unit, students have viewed survival through several lenses.
“Are we writing our own?” one student asked. “Why yes, of course you are. We’re always writing,” replied Dawn Mericle, M.Ed. student in the Integrated Language Arts and CSTW Outreach Consultant. Dawn brought her teaching pedagogy into the classroom as she worked to generate student interest in writing with assistance from Outreach Consultant Courtney Davenport, an OSU graduate student in social work. Students went on to write their own personal survival stories, which classmates eagerly completed.
The Survivor reality show became the basis of weekly classroom competitions utilizing writing constructs such as debate. Students were given the opportunity to earn points for their team (as the class was split into two groups) if they could identify classroom objects that they would use to survive on a desert island. It wasn’t enough to just list items, though, they had to write a justification on how they would use these items to survive, and provide these explanations to Outreach Consultant, Chad Weiss, an OSU graduate student in engineering. Chad would then determine if the logic was sound or not.
The theme carried over to the writing of a Seventh Grade Survival Guide, which consisted of a set of brochures that captured the advice that these seventh grade students wanted to provide to their sixth grade counterparts. Students mentioned how much they enjoyed pairing drawings with their writing; it felt more authentic to them.
“Each student’s personality was captured in his or her brochure, and their words of wisdom will live on as they are passed on to the next generation of seventh graders,” Dawn adds.
Third and fourth graders at the Columbus Africentric Early College Elementary, through a curriculum titled “There is No One Way to Be a Writer: Writing Across Passions,” are encouraged to envision writing beyond the confines of school work and tests. We want our young students to view writing as something creative and with no boundaries. Mentored by Ohio State tutors, students work after school on a sampling of projects that allow them to write and revise comic strips, letters to young activists of the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and opinion editorials. At the end of the year, students host the annual “Writers Extravaganza,” where they make mini-presentations to showcase their work to friends, family, and school administrators.
Interactively, CSTW Outreach consultants partner with Columbus Africentric Early College fifth graders to promote literacy. Students engage in “turn & talk,” as well as “turn & write” activities that enhance writing, literacy skills, oral communication, and reading. These approaches provide Outreach with immediate student feedback, as well as an assessment of student comprehension as it pertains to various tasks. In efforts to stimulate good presentation skills, every student responsively works collaboratively with another student. And our end of year final project gives students the opportunity to showcase excerpts of their writing during a poster presentation session. Overall, this partnership enables students to finely tune their own understanding of what they truly know about literacy, which gives rise to confident young writers and readers.
CSTW Outreach Consultants work with Brookhaven High School Advance Physics students on an interactive “Go Green!” Project. The main goals are for the students to develop an interest in and competency for writing in the science classroom. Students, who range from 11th to 12th grade, research a “green” topic and work creatively to produce both an 8 to 10-page written research paper as well as a 30-second digital media Public Service Announcement. The Outreach team also works with the students as they learn the inner components of a scientific research paper. We assist them in the classroom as they move from writing a research paper to producing digital media narratives.
Brookhaven 9th/10th Grade Are Scientific Website Writers
The In-School 9th/10th Grade Writing Collaborative project at Brookhaven High School includes two levels of curriculum. First, our students are encouraged to learn writing in preparation for the science portion of the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). Second, they write science website text for the school’s “Go Green!” web page. Led by a team of Outreach consultants and OSU undergraduate mentor-tutors, students also play multiple roles to master their writing skills for different purposes. They are raters for sample OGT writing essays, experts on environmental issues, and collective picture-storybook narrators. Focusing on global environmental issues, students share reflective opinions about current trends throughout the world. They also see the need to care about our global village through the international perspectives shared by our Taiwanese outreach consultant.
The science mission statement for the 9th/10th grade class at Brookhaven reads:
Science content integrated with
Classical literature is the miracle made
In our in-school writing collaboration with Brookhaven‘s 9th/10th graders because
Engaging Students with interactive activities and
Navigating them to a meaningful writing context are our goals to help them
Connect their local experiences with global
Environmental issues for Going Green!
CSTW's Outreach is working with the Alternative Technology Enhanced Curriculum (A.T.E.C.) students at Whetstone High School. It was not surprising to see a high level of engagement and enthusiasm when A.T.E.C students were “The Great Debaters” for one classroom onsite workshop. Our students came up with thoughtful and intelligent arguments for and against issues on different topics. This proved to be a valuable exercise to get our students to open up to our writing program as well as our Outreach consultant team. Working with a team of OSU undergraduate mentor-tutors, our 18 to 25 students also respond to diverse writing prompts and even draft personal statements. We also work with students to prepare them to submit essays to the "This I Believe" project to compete for an opportunity to have their essays read on National Public Radio.
Columbus Africentric Middle School E-Newspaper Project :
Newspaper Journalists on the Rise
In the summer of 2008, CSTW launched its first summer outreach project at Africentric Early College Middle School. Together four CSTW outreach consultant/instructors worked with 17 to 20 students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grader to produce four issues of an e-newspaper publication called The Nubians Info. Funding came from the Justice Paul W. Brown Fund established by Susan Brown, OSU alumna.
CSTW staff were on site at Africentric for five weeks Monday through Wednesday during 5th period after lunch. These contributing young journalists wrote about themselves, social change issues, hip hop narratives with a message, and editorials about local events and people around the world. They also learned the basics of news writing and file management. Africentric Middle successfully conveyed ideas of self-expression, community solidarity, and critical thinking.
See photos of Africentric and Linden McKinley programs.
Linden McKinley STEM Academy (7-12):
Writing Ourselves into Self and Community Awareness
Linden McKinley STEM Academy High School is one of our partnering schools for the In-School Writing Collaborative project. Students in grades 7–12 learn, discuss, and write about various subjects and write-to-learn in diverse content areas: Through creative, interactive writing, students express their thoughts on issues in their communities while acquiring knowledge of the local political process, science writing, histories on race and gender, socieoeconomics, self identity, and life choices.
CSTW visits the school weekly to assist students with all facets of writing, including brainstorming, composing, organizing, and revising for district writing assessment and standard testing. We also allow interested students to share their concerns with the broader community in hopes of increasing each student’s investment in their education and future careers and to build confidence in critical thinking, reading, writing, and speaking.
We believe that it is difficult for students to shine if they do not have a voice. Therefore, we also help our students articulate and magnify the intellectual voices they may or may not have known they already had. We hope that their verbal and written “shining” will encourage others to do the same.
Summer Writing Camp:
Serving Tomorrow's College Writers Today
"[The CSTW Summer Writing Camp] helped me become a better writer in school by giving me a broad perspective on the writing skills I need to be successful in college," says a high school senior. Twenty students from central Ohio high schools spend a lively week each summer on the Ohio State campus. They work individually and in groups on a variety of projects that challenge their ability to think critically, write digitally, and speak publicly. Click on the above link to listen to audio (MP3) files of the student's final oral presentations.
Hilltop Stories Project:
Rebuilding a Sense of Community
“You can’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been,” notes life-long Hilltopper Alan Gates, in relating Hilltop Kiwanis Club history to Columbus’s past and future. This is the theme of the Hilltop Stories’ project. In meeting neighborhood’s need to rebuild a sense of community, CSTW partnered with the Hilltop Public Library to teach eight community elders to create digital stories of their Hilltop history. We extended the project by collecting and creating digital stories from an additional 30 elders.
To sustain the program, we partnered with teens at the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center to help them learn vital technological skills and Hilltop history in classes co-facilitated with the community elders.
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