Writing for Change
“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world.”
James Baldwin, American novelist, writer, and civil rights activist
One year to set the dream. Fifty-four days to staff and plan. Forty hours of instruction in a two-week summer academy. We changed lives. Through the use of digital media, students discovered their own style, voice, and potential. On the last day, one father—four months new to our country—came up and asked us how he could get a computer for his daughter. “She must have this tool; I can see that now.”
Writing for Change was a concept created by the San Diego Area Writing Project. Margit Boyesen and Janet Ilko, co-directors of Writing For Change, brought teachers, students and technology together to create a writing experience based on the overarching belief that words create and inspire social justice. Twenty-six students and five teachers spent two weeks of their summer writing about important issues in their lives in ways that were accessible and relevant to them. In so doing, we ended up and using a variety of technologies that were accessible to the students (podcasting, video, glogster, etc.) to explore digital storytelling and create other multimedia compositions.
“Teaching for joy and justice also begins with the non-negotiable belief that all students are capable of brilliance.”
Linda Christensen, educator, author,
and director of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis & Clark
The work of Linda Christensen has greatly influenced our work with this project. We, too, have the non-negotiable belief that all students are capable of brilliance, and that has driven our work from the inception of the project. Springboarding from some lessons from Christensen’s work, we sought to provide students with a voice, a space, and the support they needed to express their views. Students came to the academy each day eager to express their views about their lives, and their hopes and ambitions for our world. Samples of student work and lesson reflections are found on other pages in this resource.