To spark the mind that will hopefully change the world.
The Writing Center is a place for students to walk in power, speak the truth, and become powerful agents of change through literary activism.
The Writing Center is a student led program that works to develop strong, critically conscious writers, amplify student voice, strengthen community, and transform education.
DEVELOPING STRONG, CRITICALLY CONSCIOUS WRITERS
The Writing Center recruits and trains students at middle and high schools on Denver’s east side to serve as peer writing coaches at their school. As coaches, they work with their peers to develop the skills, confidence, passion, and consciousness required to use writing to change the world.
AMPLIFYING STUDENT VOICE
We work to cultivate relationships with local and national media/publishing partners. Build outlets for student voice with broad and authentic audiences. Connect students with opportunities where they can speak their truth and where their voices are valued and have the power to influence real change in the larger community.
We connect students with experiences that allow them to strengthen their own weaknesses and become leaders in the community. Student-centered community space and student-led events aim to establish radical openness, unity, safety, and security in Denver’s east side community. Through these experiences, students writing and sharing their truths becomes a reliable source of hope, guidance, and resistance in the community.
Our Writing Center also works to build a network of partners in public education on district, state, and national levels. Create opportunities for students to lead education reform and curriculum development and effectively challenge the traditional classroom hierarchy. Prepare all students to transformatively resist unjust, oppressive systems and structures found in public education.
DIALOGUE & INQUIRY
The Writing Centers provide feedback and support that allow students to more authentically engage in the writing process. Writing Center coaches have the time teachers don’t have to give personalized support in the form of essential conversations that help students develop, organize, and express their ideas more clearly. The conferences with peer writing coaches are grounded in the inquiry-based model for feedback which establishes dialogue as the cornerstone of growth. Instead of just revising an essay for the student, they use questioning skills to support the student in finding the answer themselves.
Our Writing Center is student built and student centered. We won’t just be helping kids write passing papers for required courses. We believe this is central to the Writing Center’s success because it ensures that the services and support it provides is relevant and meaningful to students. Also, having experienced a lack of confidence in their own writing, our peer writing coaches know how to best empower other students to become leaders and discover a passion for writing. We have created an environment where all students are pushed to become true writers who use their agency and power to change their lives and their community. We promote civic engagement by constantly pushing students to use writing as a way to engage in democracy and to advocate for the change they want to see in their community and their country.
Focused on Writers, not Writing
The conferences revolve around back-and-forth exchanges to push students to think more deeply about effective writing. Filling pages filled with comments and corrections might help improve that one piece of writing, but it is difficult. Discourse is far more effective and authentic to the writing process. It engages the writer more deeply and pushes them to find the answer themselves so they gain the skills and knowledge to become a better writer. The Writing Center this isn’t the place for fixing a piece of writing. It is a place to discuss and look at a piece of writing together and engage in dialogue with writer about her or his approach to it.
Changing the Perception of Feedback
The Writing Center seeks to change the perception of feedback from something required for “bad writers” to something all good writers must have. We want to help students recognize that real writing requires a whole community and is never done in isolation. Professional writers have editors and partners they rely on to give them feedback and new ideas. Our Writing Center is a place for all writers of all abilities. Peer writing coaches help all students become more effective writers. We honor all stages of the writing process and always stand by our belief that everyone, no matter their skill level, can benefit from revision and feedback.
Shifting Educational Paradigm
We shift from the traditional top-down structure in schools where the student’s scope of action extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing information given to them by teachers. This model invalidates the skills, experiences, and knowledge these students hold. The writing center will flip this structure and give students the chance to become teachers. We believe true learning and growth is born from inquiry and that knowledge emerges only when students have ownership and leadership within their educational experience. The ultimate goal of the Writing Center at Manual will be to allow students the chance to engage an empowering and liberating educational experience in which the students are jointly responsible for the process and the learning. The peer writing coaches use dialogue and inquiry to help the students they are working with find the answer themselves. The students who come in determine agenda of discussion, they generate the questions, and the peer coaches facilitate their thinking– coaching them until they can find the solution on their own.