A relatively new course of learning has been initiated in the Rising Raptor after-school program in various schools around the district and it is called Write Brain.
“In this program students are able to pick illustrated, wordless books and write their own story,” said Samatha Holdaway, the site coordinator for the Rising Raptors program at Wellington Elementary.
The teacher begins the Write Brain writing process by showing students example pictures that come with the program and then ask the students to write about what they think is happening in the illustration. They do that for practice only, to get the students used to transferring what they see into words. The teacher also uses fun games and cards to bring out the students imaginations. The cards in particular are interesting because a team of students will have to use a card that is passed from person to person, and each must be writing something about it and then combine it into a story. This process is enjoyable for both the teacher and the students.
The next step in the process is that the students then pick a book, which has illustrations in it, but then they write story in the book of what they see. Each of the children get excited about being able to direct what is happening in their story.
The last step the students get to take in the Write Brain book club is to write a book with other children in the group. Together the students create a story, which leads to learning a lot of different skills including teamwork and working with others on a project.
“The students at Wellington did one group book and one individual book,” said Holdaway. “When they were completed we were able to submit them and get the books ‘published.’ It was amazing to see how excited the students were about writing. They went through many stages of practice writing, story and character development that was able to teach them valuable writing skills they will use in school. There was no complaining about writing, they were invested and engaged.” The books were then donated to the school library and later, they will be read to the other students at the school by the librarian.
“I asked the students if it was harder to write the team book or their individual book,” said Alisa Morley, the director for the districts after school program. “They said it was definitely harder to write the team book because different students had different ideas about which way the stories should go.”
Morley said the program began at Sally Mauro last year, and some of those students went to other schools and read their books. Students from the other programs were excited about doing the same thing. She said that students at Bruin Point and Castle Heights are currently in the process of writing their books and Creekview has plans to start the Write Brain program early next year.
“The stories were completely theirs, and they were excited to see the end goal of being a published author,” stated Holdaway. “They also were able to gain wonderful skills in collaboration as they wrote their one book as a group. They had to negotiate, share ideas, listen, which sometimes resulted in them using rock paper scissors to resolve their differences, but they were able to learn what it means to work in a group and share ideas.”