In 1986, I was introduced to the Writing Workshop at Columbia Teachers College. I have continued to attend the workshops because they are absolutely brilliant. I am indebted to Lucy Caulkins because each year, new authors emerge from the classroom. The kids are on the move because they are making reading/writing connections daily. They are also immersed in the best literature possible.
The voices of our students need to be heard. Therefore, in an effort to provide an audience for our writers beyond the perimeters of the classroom, the writers compete in contests throughout the nation —and win. They also submit their pieces of literature to periodicals. And, finally, web pages are created to celebrate their efforts and accomplishments.
Our students are ready for any challenge. They are perfecting their craft in the classroom each day. Like artists using words as a tool, they have created moods, captured fleeting images and provided the rhythm only they know in a variety of genres to make their picture complete.
Each year, we look forward to the awakening of new writers who will be published at a very young age. Their work has been validated again and again. They are writing to be read as they place their words and life on the line. And, in the process, they have reinvented themselves. And we can only say: “Write on!”
Yes, the process works.
(Phyllis Murray is a member of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City.)