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Writers in the Schools

Empowering young people to discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices.

WITS Broadsides Reading at Jack Straw

April 7, 2018 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Led by WITS Writers-in-Residence Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick, Writers in the Schools presents a reading of students from Seattle Children’s at the Jack Straw Cultural Gallery, featuring poems made into broadside works by the talented letterpress artists at the School of Visual Concepts.

Purchase the 2016/17 WITS Anthology

Every fall, WITS publishes an anthology featuring outstanding poetry, prose and comics from our elementary, middle and high school students from the 27 public schools and Seattle Children’s.

WITS Year-End Reading & Celebration: Elementary & Middle Schools

May 30, 2018 6:00 pm

Join us for an extraordinary evening of literary talent with the Pulitzer Prize-winning voices of the future! Student writers from 27 schools throughout the Puget Sound Region and Seattle Children’s Hospital will share original poems, short stories, and memoirs created during their residencies with the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program.

 

WITS Year-End Reading & Celebration: Middle & High Schools

May 31, 2018 6:00 pm

Join us for an extraordinary evening of literary talent with the Pulitzer Prize-winning voices of the future! Student writers from 27 schools throughout the Puget Sound Region and Seattle Children’s Hospital will share original poems, short stories, and memoirs created during their residencies with the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program.

SAL’s Writers in the Schools (WITS) program connects professional writers with public school classrooms throughout the Puget Sound region to elevate the voices of all students as they discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices. Through WITS, students become authors of their own lives.

Philosophy

WITS Writers-in-Residence provide a professional writer to inspire a vibrant culture around writing for both students and teachers. Through working with professional, published creative writers, students are empowered to tell their own stories and given new tools to do so. By weaving the residencies into the school day, the program reaches students who might never elect to attend an after-school program in creative writing. We believe in bringing a racial equity lens to our work to increase literary arts access and opportunities for students throughout the city to be part of a collective conversation, fueled by a shared commitment and love for words. Through WITS, students become authors of their own lives.

Goals

  • Inspire students to engage in the writing process, build writing skills, and increase 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.
  • Promote self-expression and build positive learning communities
  • Connect young writers throughout the Puget Sounds to the wider literary culture of our region

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 WITS 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).

82% 

of teachers say students’ writing skills and quality of writing improve as a result of WITS programming.

90%

of teachers report that their partnership with the WITS writers enhances their own teaching skills and practices.

90%

of students say they believe they can continue to get better at writing after WITS.

Impact

Survey results show that WITS improves students’ writing skills, invigorates the teaching of writing, and develops a growth mindset.

Ways to Get Involved

For Teachers and Principals

To discuss how WITS might work at your school or how to go about bringing WITS there, please contact Alicia Craven, Program Director, at acraven@lectures.org. We are also available to travel to your school to talk one-on-one with you or to make a larger presentation to a group of interested teachers and administrators.

For Parents

If you are interested in bringing WITS to your child’s school, please contact Alicia Craven, WITS Program Director, at acraven@lectures.org to discuss the possibilities. We encourage you to bring your children to our annual public events: our spring Year-End Readings in May at The Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch, and our fall anthology book release and readings at Benaroya Hall. See our Calendar for more information.

For Students

Love WITS and want to be involved in keeping it great? Email wits@lectures.org to learn about opportunities for current or former WITS students.

Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest

Every year, WITS holds the Elaine Wetterauer Writing Contest for students from all WITS schools, representing all writing genres. The 2017-18 writing contest invited students to address the theme “Sing, _______, Sing” to explore the subjects of yearning, struggle, and hope in relation to their personal experiences and the world around them. This year’s contest winners will be announced at Jesmyn Ward’s event with SAL on January 17, 2018, in celebration of her National Book Award-winning novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing.

 

Youth Poet Laureate

Founded in 2015, the Youth Poet Laureate program gives a platform to youth who care deeply about literary arts as a tool for civic engagement and change. Learn more about the program here.

For Community Members

  • Donate supplies. Composition books, pocket folders, art supplies, treats for our writer meetings, pizza and cupcakes and drinks for our author celebrations, goodies for the gift bags that honor our young writers at year-end-readings, audio/visual services, spaces for writer meetings, in-kind printing. The list goes on!
  • Spread the word. Speak about WITS to your friends who are teachers, who are parents, who are writers, who work at newspapers and magazines, who are supporters of the literary arts, and who are supporters of education. Tell them you support this program and that you’d like them to support it, too, in whatever way they can!
  • Come to events. Your ticket to a SAL event helps support the education program, and your presence at WITS readings expands the audience and community for our young writers. All WITS and Youth Poet Laureate readings are free and open to the public!
  • Make a tax-deductible donation: Your generosity helps WITS keep the program going strong, allows for more subsidies to high-needs schools, and allows us to pay the incredible working writers who teach in WITS classrooms. Click here to donate today.
  • Email wits@lectures.org for more information on how to get involved!

For Writers

Applications to join the WITS Writer corps will open in June 2018. Stay tuned to the WITS page for more information. The previous year’s application is here.

For writers, the WITS program includes:

  • Placement in a public Puget Sound K-12 school for an extended creative writing residency
  • Professional development throughout the year, including quarterly meetings with WITS peers, mentorship for new WITS writers, and racial equity training
  • Inclusion in the Local Voices reading series, a reading by WITS writers held three times a year at the Sorrento Hotel’s Fireside Lounge, publicized by Seattle Arts & Lectures
  • Free tickets to all SAL events throughout the season

Samar Abulhassan

BF Day Elementary, Blue Heron School & The Hutch School

Daemond Arrindell

Broadview-Thomson K-8, HS3 High School, West Seattle High School & South Lake High School

Jamaica Baldwin

Ballard High School

Letitia Cain

Catharine Blaine K-8 School

Aaron Counts

Youth Poet Laureate Mentor, co-founder of Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program

Katy Ellis

B.F. Day Elementary School

Karen Finneyfrock

Lafayette Elementary School & Blue Heron Middle School

Kathleen Flenniken

View Ridge Elementary School

Kelly Froh

Renaissance School of Art and Reasoning

Laura Gamache

Blue Heron Middle School, Hamilton International Middle School, TOPS K-8

Matt Gano

The Center School, Youth Poet Laureate Mentor, co-founder of Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program

Evelin Garcia

Puesta del Sol Elementary School

Ramon Isao

B.F. Day Elementary School

Jourdan Keith

Cascade K-8 Community School, Renaissance School of Art & Reasoning

Rachel Kessler

Blue Heron Middle School

David Lasky

McDonald International School

Gary Copeland Lilley

Port Townsend High School

Alex Madison

TOPS K-8 School

Corinne Manning

Roosevelt High School

Peter Mountford

Blue Heron Middle School

Sierra Nelson

Seattle Children's & McDonald International Elementary School

Minh Nguyen

Franklin High School

Cody Pherigo

Nathan Hale High School

Raúl Sánchez

Evergreen High School

Danny Sherrard

Middle College, UW campus; Nathan Hale High School

Imani Sims

Renaissance School of Art and Reasoning

Greg Stump

McClure Middle School, Cascade Community School & Catharine Blaine K-8 School

Ann Teplick

Seattle Children's Education Department

Arianne True

Washington Middle School

Jeanine Walker

Alki Elementary School & Leschi Elementary School