by Emily Lundberg, jaBlog! US West Blogger
Every year an astounding 23,000 students are reached by the literary organization Writers in the Schools (WITS). Located in Houston Texas, the organization sends professional writers out to teach creative writing in 350 classrooms in addition to several community locations throughout Houston.
Inspiring Students to Love Writing
One of the things that sets WITS apart from other literacy organizations that work with schools is that they work closely with professional writers to match their talents with particular schools. Some of those writers are playwrights, artists, and there are even a few musicians, but what they all have in common is a unique ability to inspire students while teaching the craft of writing. Also, rather than having a set curriculum, they allow each writer to create and customize their own lessons and activities which allows them to connect with the students on a more personal level. That being said, most focus on helping students creatively express themselves with words.
Writing Workshops in the Community
Among its various programs, WITS hosts a free spoken word workshop every Wednesday at the Houston public library, Smith branch, for youth between the ages of 13 and 18. This workshop is known to make a huge impression on the students who attend because it is led by renowned poet Emanulee “Outspoken” Bean who has traveled across the country performing his work and inspiring young minds.
Every fourth Friday, WITS also hosts their Meta-Four(th) Fridays workshops for youth between the ages of 12 and 19 at Hope Stone Houston. Attendees of this free workshop learn exciting writing and performance tips that easily improve student’s work and creativity. In addition to its programs for teens, WITS provides free writing workshops specifically geared for students in grades two to eight every Saturday at the Discovery Green Conservancy Center. In the program, professionals teach the joys of creativity through a plethora of crafts and fun writing exercises that kids love.
A Proven Impact
In a fourteen year study, Dr. Scott from St. Thomas University documented the continual impact of WITS on classrooms. Through his research he found that students who completed a WITS program had a dramatic increase in writing ability based on a six-point scale used by the schools. Even more impressive is the impact WITS has had on standardized test scores.
In his studies, Dr. Scott found that students who completed a WITS program performed significantly better on exams than those who did not. Finally, students who completed programs with WITS also exhibited a huge leap in self-confidence in terms of writing according to surveys given to students at the beginning and end of their programs.
For those of you interested in getting involved with WITS you can visit their website for more information about their programs and upcoming events.