Since 2004, Get Lit!'s Writers-in-Residence Program has helped to inspire over a thousand young writers by placing professional writers in K-12 schools in and around Spokane. Our authors (poets, essayists, and fiction writers) offer writing tools to students and teachers alike. With the goal of enhancing basic literacy skills and generating an enthusiasm about learning, they engage students of all ages and backgrounds in discussions about literature and guide young writers to make discoveries about the human condition, into which the world of literature provides an endless wealth of insight. The program also allows participating classroom teachers to refine their understanding of literary writing and to develop new classroom strategies. Teachers often report that collaborating with a professional writer left them feeling invigorated and that it had enriched their own interest in writing.
WiR teachers work with three classrooms, each for an hour a week. Sessions generally open with a discussion of a specific published work. The discussion is followed by brainstorming, writing, and sharing. In the presence of a professional writer, students often become energized about reading, and they learn to enjoy writing as a craft. As their writing skills expand, so does their self-confidence, and they begin to experiment with a variety of forms and styles. In particular, WiR teachers encourage students to write from their own experience. This approach helps students not only to discover the value of their own stories but to recognize that, as writers, they are contributing to the broader conversation that is literature.
Following the best practices set out by the Writers in the Schools Alliance, a national coalition of writers-in-the-schools programs based in Houston, our writers are selected on the basis of their knowledge of literature and creative writing, their teaching experience, and their passion for education, especially in the arts. In addition to working with classroom teachers to create projects that respond to the needs of a particular group of students, each WiR teacher produces his or her own set of lesson plans, which address various Washington State standards. The plans are left with teachers to use with future classes and to share with fellow teachers, which helps to extend the impact of the WiR program at each school.
Over the years, we have worked with many of the same schools, moving from one grade level to the next to sustain the impact of the program or targeting a certain grade level so that students can look forward to participating in a specific year. Our residency programs traditionally run for 26-weeks, but we recently began offering a 10-week program as well, in which our authors focus on a single genre: poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. We also offer a Poetry on the Go field trip to a local art museum, either as a stand-alone event or in conjunction with the 10-week program. See Options/Fees for more information.
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