Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program places professional local writers in public elementary, middle, and high school classrooms to spark interest and develop skills in reading and writing. Since its founding in 1994, the program has served K-12 public school students and teachers in the Puget Sound region. In the 2011-12 school year, the program worked with 5,250 students and 112 teachers in 27 schools in five school districts: Kent, Mercer Island, Seattle, Shoreline, and Port Townsend, as well as at Seattle Children's Hospital. Many other students and teachers benefited through the program's spotlight author visits, writing-based field trips to the Seattle Art Museum, public readings, complimentary tickets to Seattle Arts & Lectures' events, and book donations. By encouraging students to write about what they know best—themselves—WITS helps students find their own, authentic voices.
From songs to sonnets, from cover letters to love letters, Writers in the Schools (WITS) inspires young people to discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices.
Through working with professional, published creative writers, students are empowered to tell their own stories. Writers-in-residence provide a meaningful role model for every student—from the motivated learner to the reluctant writer—and for each teacher. The residencies are woven into the school day, thus reaching students who might never elect to attend an after-school program in creative writing. Through WITS, students become authors of their own lives.
♦ Inspire students to engage in the writing process, build skills and improve the quality of their writing, and increase their self-confidence.
♦ Invigorate the teaching of writing by providing teachers with innovative lessons and literature, fresh techniques, and the time and encouragement to join their students in writing.
♦ Support and sustain a positive culture of reading and writing at each school.
How WITS Works
Writers in the Schools works with each school to design a residency that meets that school’s particular learning outcomes, curriculum needs, and schedule. In a typical residency, the writer-in-residence teaches three or four classes of students once or twice a week for an entire semester. Providing students with sustained, sequential learning allows them to engage with the full arc of the writing process: brainstorming, pre-writing, drafting, revising, publishing, and performing.
Each WITS writer-in-residence designs lesson plans based upon the curriculum, goals, and standards of the classroom teacher. Writers are responsible for preparing and teaching the lessons, commenting on student work, and planning a culminating project such as a reading or publication. Teachers are responsible for assisting the writer with overall planning, an understanding of the school’s culture, and classroom management; teachers are invited and encouraged to participate fully in, and learn from, the lessons.
We are committed to designing our creative teaching within larger learning benchmarks such as the Essential Academic Learning Requirements, Grade Level Expectations, the Writers’ Workshop, and state assessments, such as the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).
♦ One local, professional, creative writer to teach a year-long artist residency in the genre of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. The basic residency provides 84 in-school teaching hours; additional hours or writers may be added.
♦ One visit from an established author. Past visits have featured authors such as Christopher Paul Curtis, Frank McCourt, Stephen King, and Lucille Clifton.
♦ Funding for student publications, recordings, or projects.
♦ A professionally produced anthology featuring the best work from each school.
♦ Public student readings, including a program-wide anthology launch and year-end showcase.
♦ A donation of books to enrich school libraries, teacher resources, or classroom collections.
♦ Fellowships for teachers to attend professional development workshops.
♦ Scholarships for students to attend summer creative writing workshops.
♦ Complimentary tickets to Seattle Arts & Lectures’ events (as available).