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

Teachers are our central partners, and they will bring on board groups of students for different lengths of time (e.g., some teachers will bring on a new group each quarter and others will keep their students on for an academic year).

For whatever length of time teachers have their group participating on W4C , we ask that teachers support students in interacting on the W4C platform at least once per week (with more frequent interaction being the goal). This will often involve having the students participate in weekly MISSIONS. Please see the curriculum page for more details.

Students are always invited to post writing in progress to the Writer’s Corner at any time. This can be done in conjunction with the teacher or on their own.

Teachers can also have their students participate in two additional curricular activities, projects and collaborations, but these are optional. These will deepen the students’ thinking and will contribute to the W4C community, but we understand teachers may or may not have the opportunity to participate in these activities with every group they sponsor on the network.

Finally, we encourage teachers to customize their experience as they’d like! For example, some teachers have students keep blogs or have a group blog. Others have created an introductory video for the group. We have lots of ideas for teachers to jump into the community in different ways on our teacher resources page (currently accessed via password: please be in touch with us and will will share the password).

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

The curriculum for Write4Change positions young people to think about themselves as change agents across local and global contexts. It will help them see connections between SELF-COMMUNITY-WORLD in two central areas:

  • writing (how can they impact others through their writing? how can they become thoughtful, sensitive, and effective writers online? how can they use digital tools to create powerful writing and measure the impact of their work on others?)
  • cross-cultural communication (how can they collaborate with people from different backgrounds and with different beliefs, languages, and cultures? how will they find common ground to learn from and with others? what strategies are most effective in promoting and sustaining dialogue? how do they see themselves in relationship with others, and how can they be ethical and caring in their interactions?)

The curriculum is designed to be very flexible for teachers to incorporate into their existing work, organized around three kinds of activities:

1. Missions

Each week the community issues a MISSION. Missions are short, locally-focused activities that each member of the community should do. Missions are designed for two purposes: 1) to help people learn about one another and their local cultures; and 2) to build students’ writing and cross-cultural communication skills.

Everyone in the community should participate in the weekly missions (including teachers, mentors, and students). Members will post their missions in the Asset Library, with the relevant hashtag.

Everyone begins with Mission Zero (#mission0): Getting to Know the W4C Community.

2. Projects

PROJECTS are at the heart of the W4C community. Many teachers already have students engage in project-based learning in their classrooms, and we encourage them to use or adapt those existing projects. Teachers can also use example projects from our Project Bank or create new projects for the W4C community alone or with other W4C educators. Projects can be any length and vary in depth and complexity, depending on the needs of the teacher/group.

We ask that teachers direct students to post project updates in the community, either to document work happening in the classroom or to seek feedback at different stages.

Our example projects in the Project Bank model an inquiry-to-action cycle that includes four built-in check in points (Inquire-Make-Act-Reflect). We encourage teachers to incorporate these check in points in their projects when possible.

Students can always post any ongoing or independent writing projects they are working on in the Writer’s Corner. This is a central place for people to find stories, engage with writing in progress, share new ideas, and get feedback.

3. Collaborations

COLLABORATIONS are opportunities for people to come together from across the community to work on something jointly. Sometimes these collaborations will take the form of a joint project (e.g., a collaborative publication) and other times these might involve exchanges (either person-to-person or group-to-group). Teachers can participate in as many or as few of these collaborations as desired, organizing a collaboration with others or joining collaborations in progress (these will be announced on the weekly group blog).

Some examples of past collaborations include:

  • A live dialogue between two groups, conducted via Skype or Google Hangout
  • A kind of ‘pen-pal’ exchange, either between students matched up by teachers or between a mentor and student
  • A group ‘relay’ writing activity, in which a student writes one part of a story and passes it on to the next writer
  • A curation project, with different students add to a group whiteboard (e.g., what lunches look like across the world; or ‘how to survive in X city’)
  • An action project, in which different students collect data on an issue in different places (e.g., water or air quality)
  • A data exchange, with students collecting and visualizing data on their activities

We offer more details about the curriculum, including example missions, projects, and collaborations, in the private teacher community. Please be in touch if you would like access to this community.

 

FAQs

What do teachers in W4C do?

Teachers in W4C interact on the platform and support students in participating there.

  • 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.
  • Facilitate weekly interactions online. We have weekly missions that promote cross-cultural communication and writing. We ask that you get students online at least once a week to participate in the missions and interact with (and learn from and with) students around the world.
  • Communicate 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.) and/or with other teachers. 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 regularly.
  • Optional:
    • Guide your students in producing projects to share on the network. These projects can be quite small (a poem or story to share) or more elaborate (a media artifact investigating an issue in the local community). In addition to sharing the projects, we hope teachers can have students post updates as they work on it (ideally getting feedback and insights along the way).
    • Collaborate with other groups online. We have lots of ideas about how you can set up an exchange with others (see the curriculum page), and we will facilitate at least one all-community collaboration each quarter that you can join.
    • Get Involved: 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.

  • Participate in weekly missions. Engage in posting, commenting, collaborating, and connecting at least once a week (even better: 3+ times per week).
  • Create projects that can be shared with the W4C community (it can be in-process work as well as finished work).
  • Collaborate with others, either individually or in group collaborations.
  • 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 using tools in our 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?
  • Talk with us. Many teachers have said they like to talk to someone from the W4C project before they begin. We are happy to schedule a phone call or video call to discuss the community and answer questions.
  • Do Mission Zero. The first mission, Getting to Know the W4C Community, will help orient you to the community and tools. You can find details about Mission Zero on the Teacher Resource page or in the W4C community.
  • Create a group presence online. 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 (and send a picture!). We have other ideas for getting started on our Teacher Resources page.
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 to help us learn more about how to educate young people as global writers and change agents
  • Contribute to curriculum development (informally by posting resources 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.