About W4C

 

The Write4Change community is social network for adolescent writers (ages 13-19) to share their writing with others, to collaborate with global peers similarly engaged in using writing to effect change, and to learn from and with one another. One of the primary goals of the project is to amplify the impact of students’ voices through the power of globally networked communication.

All youth on our private platform are connected through a partner teacher, one who is committed to working with other educators to support students writing for change. As the community expands through new partnerships and members, we hope it serves as a hub connecting participants with publication opportunities, global initiatives, and online resources and tools.

Teachers have great flexibility to shape the activities to suit their curricular and pedagogical needs. Most interactions have been in English as the shared language to date, but we are working toward integrating more multilingual composing tools. We hope teachers will encourage students to write using multiple languages and modes to make this a rich multilingual community of writers.

The Write4Change community is part of a broader research project, but no one needs to be enrolled in the research project to participate. We will not use any of the students’ writing or postings for research purposes unless they have given informed consent. However, participating researchers will be moderating and monitoring activity on the platform to ensure that there is no bullying or inappropriate postings (members can also flag potentially problematic content). If you would like to join us in the research project, please see the FAQ page for more details.

HOW W4C WORKS

JOIN

Interested educators enroll a group of their adolescent students (ages 13-19) in the Write4Change (W4C) community. The teacher is the connective partner, working with their students and other teachers, to guide students’ writing and collaboration online with students in other places. Educators can be formal classroom teachers or informal educators (e.g., enrolling students in an afterschool or summer club).

GET ON THE W4C PLATFORM

 

PARTICIPATE

Groups can participate in one or more ACTIVITY CYCLES. There are four activity cycles each year, with a different theme and related activities. Each activity cycle lasts from 6-10 weeks and consists of three projects that move students through an inquiry to action cycle. Please see the curriculum page for more details.

Teachers are welcome to use the provided curriculum, design new curriculum to share with others, or use or adapt their existing curriculum on the W4C platform. We are very open to teachers customizing the space and community to suit their needs.

For groups participating in a W4C activity cycle, we ask that teachers support students as they interact on the W4C platform at least once per week with more frequent interaction being the goal. Having this level of activity in the community space is what keeps the interactions feeling generative. Please see the curriculum page for ideas about how students can interact online.

 

DEFINING WRITING & CHANGE

We see writing for change as any act of composing that contributes, even in unexpected or small ways, to some kind of active change – in  communities, places, groups, or individual people.

The project is dedicated to helping youth think about how writing can bring about CHANGE. That is, how can their work have impact for themselves and on others?

Writing

We define writing very broadly—this can include traditional textual forms (essays, narratives, poems) and more arts and media oriented textual forms (digital stories, movies, films, image, music, etc.). Writing is a form of composing, as people use and intermix modes like written text, video, audio, and image (e.g., writing a report, creating a documentary, making a digital story, composing a poem, setting poetry to music, podcasting, interviewing, etc.) to create something new and impactful. We have a number of visualization tools that we will introduce to help young people learn to write for broader, global audiences and measure the impact of their writing on those audiences.

Change

We leave it to individual teachers to decide what constitutes ‘change’ or ‘social action’ in their contexts (and indeed, we are interested in learning more about how these ideas get defined over time in the community). For some of our partners, change is oriented to the individual, and the writing that young people engage in is designed to help them focus on their inner selves, their goals and aspirations, and their emotional, psychological, or artistic journeys. For other partners, change is about creating societal movement, whether in bringing about more just outcomes for marginalized populations (e.g., improving girls’ education) or undoing injustices witnessed in local, national, or global communities (e.g., fighting against child marriage or helping refugees). We imagine there will be great variation in how people think of writing as/for change.

Here are some examples of how we see writing and change happening around us:

 

How Wolves Change Rivers

 

Goodnet.org

Food Empowerment Project

#StarringJohnCho

 

CURRICULUM

Write 4 Change (W4C) has four activity cycles each year to maximize collaboration and flexibility.

  • Anyone can jump into an activity cycle and know others will be active in the community during that period (including ‘alumni’), though in reality people will be interacting and posting regularly even between cycles
  • Teachers can keep the same group on W4C over time (adding, extending, or adapting projects as they go) or bring on new students each activity cycle
  • The longer activity cycles (10 weeks) allow enough time for school breaks, testing, and other activities while still keeping everyone involved

 

Each activity cycle has a theme.

  • The themes help orient members to key ideas about writing & change
  • Each activity cycle theme has an orientation module that explains the theme
  • Each activity cycle theme also connects to focal skills that will help participants engage in productive digital citizenship and writing practices

 

Activity cycles are made up of projects and challenges.

  • Every week the moderators will issue a W4C challenge that will get everyone talking and interacting (submit challenge ideas to moderators!). These challenges connect to the focal skills for each cycle to put them into practice.
  • Each activity cycle focuses on three projects that students complete (individually or in groups). There is a lot of flexibility about which projects to include, and teachers are encouraged to develop (and share!) their own projects that suit the needs of their curriculum and school context
  • Students should freely share other writing they are doing (projects and challenges represent only one way to have common touchpoints)

 

Each activity cycle has its own inquiry to action sequence (moving people from thinking to doing).

  • We have a flexible curriculum that encourages students to move from inquiry to action every 6-10 weeks (we call these three projects “collections”)
  • There are multiple pathways to participation. Teachers and students can customize, adapt, or mix and match projects depending on their purposes or share other content not reflected in the shared curriculum
  • Teachers and students should choose (or develop) content based on interests and needs

FAQs

What do teachers in W4C do?

Teachers in W4C interact on the platform and support students in participating there. We ask that new teachers commit to participating with their students for at least one activity cycle (6-10 weeks).

  • Engage in the community yourself and act as a guide for your students to help connect them with the possibilities the community offers. We hope you will be an active member with other teachers, creating new networks of teachers who support writing for change.
  • Guide your students in working through 3 projects. These are asynchronous projects with no due date and can be as simple or elaborate as you want. Of course, you can create/use your own curriculum and projects as well—or adapt these to suit your purposes. We think three projects is the right number to get students engaged together and moving forward at a productive pace.
  • Facilitate weekly interactions online. We have weekly challenges (groups can sponsor new ones too, so submit ideas!) that support the broader theme of the activity cycle. We ask that you get students online at least once a week to participate in the challenges, collaborate with others, join a discussion forum, and interact with other people’s writings.
  • Post regularly (e.g., once a week) about your site (e.g., what you all are working on, info about your school or program, cool W4C activities, etc.). This can be done in collaboration with your students and can take the form of a blog post, video, podcast, photos, art work etc. You will have a group page in the community that you can update each week.
  • Optional: You might want to get more involved in W4C: sign up to be in the research study and sign students up as well; participate in our curriculum development efforts; or work as a ‘core teacher’ as we expand W4C. See below for more details!
What do students in W4C do?

Students in the W4C community are asked to participate in a few different activities that can begin as teacher facilitated work but become self-directed over time.

  • Engage in weekly challenges.
  • Compose in response to 3 projects and post the work to the W4C community (it can be in-process work as well as finished work).
  • Participate on the platform by posting, commenting, collaborating, and connecting at least once a week (even better: 3+ times per week).
  • Optional activities:
    • Connect outside of W4C and document/report on those efforts. We will post invitations to contests or publishing opportunities that youth may enjoy.
    • Track their impact in the W4C community in some way. This might be a visual, a written reflection, a tally count etc. We are developing a lot of tools to help them write for impact (called the Impact Studio).
    • Join the research study.
I am interested. How do I sign up to learn more?
  • Send us an email. Fill in the contact sheet on this website or send us an email to get started and we will be in touch with next steps.
  • Go to our teacher page. Our password protected teacher page has more information about the curriculum and next steps. Once you have been in touch with us, we will share the password. You can take our initial survey, read through the additional information, and get a log in password for our private platform so you can browse around (and talk to others in the community).
We are all signed up on W4C. What do I do to get started?
  • Meet with us (optional). Many teachers have said they like to talk to someone from the W4C project before they begin. We are happy to schedule an audio or  video orientation call with you and/or to meet with your students via Skype or Google Hangouts to discuss the community and answer questions.
  • Name your group. Working with your students, develop a short name for your group. Let us know what your group name is so we can create a page for you in the community. Send us a picture of the group we can use on your page.
  • Do an orientation module. We have a short orientation module for students introducing them to the project and community.
  • Post introductions. Have each person participating (you included) post an introduction to the community in the “Introductions!” #hashtag. Make this introduction as creative as you’d like.
  • Do the first challenge. Have each person participating (you included) post a response to the first challenge.
How can I get more involved in the W4C project?

If you are interested in being even more involved in the W4C project you can:

  • Sign up to participate in the research study and invite your students to join
  • Schedule an interview with the research team
  • Contribute to curriculum development (informally by posting ideas in the teacher community or more formally by joining the research team)
  • Volunteer to be one of the W4C core teachers who shape the work of the project in different ways: being a regional leader (recruiting colleagues and representing the project in your region); being a liaison with other partners and organizations (e.g., National Writing Project, youth contests, etc.); acting as a coach (helping alumni or leading professional development for other teachers; or acting as a sponsor (someone who helps promote work outside of the W4C community; e.g., at conferences or in co-authored publications).

Contact us at w4cproject@gmail.com for more information.