By Meredith Critchfield, PhD
Online Full-Time Faculty Manager and Assistant Professor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Is there a divide between school life and home life?
This is often the case for children whose parents may be uncomfortable entering the school environment or whose schools don’t welcome parents in to see learning in action.
However, this divide doesn’t have to last forever!
How can we break down walls between students’ home lives and school learning?
There are countless ways to make sure students learn year-round and, even more, feel like there’s a united front in support of learning. Community-based initiatives like family writing projects are one perfect solution. Projects like these help connect school and home. They also help students see that we are all learners, no matter our position in life.
What’s a community writing project?
A community writing project is an advocacy mission involving family members and members of the neighborhood who come to school during the regular school year or summer break to write alongside students.
The goal is for everyone to share his or her personal stories and experiences in writing. An activity might be to create a picture book of a favorite childhood memory or a script and video featuring landmarks in the community that are near and dear to heart.
What makes a community writing project work so well?
Most of all, community writing projects move literacy to the forefront. Writing life stories and sharing them with others is a humbling experience. Reading others’ life stories gives greater perspective on the world.
When communities and their children write and read together, everyone begins to see the value of literacy. This leads to ripple effects of literacy, ultimately helping to change the ways students and members of the community interact within and beyond their neighborhood.
Community writing projects also allow for healing, cultural expression, trust building and catharsis. When communities enter schools, everyone can begin to take responsibility for the students who inhabit them and the learning that takes place.
It’s possible to make learning fun, interesting and engaging year-round for students through community writing projects that invite the outside inside and welcome community members into the classroom space.
Keep reading! Check out our recent blog post about preventing summer learning loss to learn more about the importance of learning all year long.
More about Dr. Critchfield:
Meredith Critchfield, PhD, is a former public school teacher and current faculty member, researcher and writer at Grand Canyon University. Her work focuses on literacy education, teaching English as a second language and educational equity in urban, multicultural contexts. She has written more than 12 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and has a co-authored a book with Columbia University’s Teachers College Press, titled “Real World Writing for Secondary Students.” Dr. Critchfield’s most recent award for her work is the Grand Canyon University Leadership in Research and Scholarly Activity Award.
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