Now in its second year, Gate City Writes, in partnership with the UNCG School of Education, invited area K-12 educators for the Gates City Writes Conference July 10-13. Ten teachers from multiple content areas and one library specialist joined us to experience a writer-centered, strengths-based approach to the writing process. We continued the theme from our inaugural year, “Teachers as Writers, Writers as Teachers,” prompting conference participants both to learn about instructional strategies for young writers and to practice being writers themselves.
Discussions centered on the use of a number of instructional strategies to support young writers: occasional papers, daybooks, writing workshop, mini-lessons, conferencing, and mentor texts. Participants kept their own daybooks and met in workshop groups as they prepared their own occasional papers, which they presented at the end of the week. Beautiful pieces about family, pets, learning, math, identities and more were shared by our talented teacher-writers.
Participants also had opportunities to observe the Young Writer’s Camps sessions running concurrently in the UNCG School of Education. We saw students preparing spoken word poetry, composing fiction, using digital tools to create podcasts and publish their writing – all ideas our teachers can take back into their classrooms this fall. We were also privileged to observe and assist with the Community Voices Project, which helps immigrant and refugees from the Triad compose and record their autobiographical stories. Community Voices Project is a joint partnership between UNCG and the Coalition for Diversity, Language and Community. With THREE programs – one for students, one for teachers, and one for community members – all under one roof, we were wonderfully crowded with many voices imagining possibilities, crafting stories, rewriting their worlds.
Our work continues with Gate City Writes, and we look forward to a year of opportunities to reconnect our educators with one another and to engage Triad schools in the work of fostering student and teacher voices through writing.