Writers in the Schools
July 2015: Watch our new video and see Writers in the Schools from the perspective of students, teachers, principals, and parents.
Writers in the Schools (WITS) brings professional, trained writers into Colorado classrooms to conduct a series of writing workshops that culminate in a published anthology and public reading of student work. Placing trained, active poets, playwrights fiction and non-fiction writers in the classroom inspires the students to make leaps of literary imagination, and this excitement and sense of autonomy impacts all other areas of language learning. Our goal for the program is to give students a sense of excitement and authority over their own creative endeavors in language.
Writers visit classrooms once a week (up to 16 workshops) for up to 75 minutes. Writers in residence meet with teachers to plan how they will inspire student writing, help with revision of student work, collaborate to produce an anthology and final reading to peers and public. The anthology (online or print) contains one piece of writing by every student involved in a residency. The residencies end with a classroom, schoolwide, and/ or public reading and celebration of the students’ work.
Visit our Participating Schools page to see where WITS has been!
Connecting a student’s experiences with his or her own writing makes writing relevant. Preparing their writing for publication and performance inspires revision. Seeing their work published in print or online anthologies that look like other books and media helps students realize that great writing is created by people very much like themselves.
Benefits of WITS
Writers in the Schools offers many tangible benefits for K-12 students, from improved test scores to improved self-esteem.
WITS Improves TCAP Scores
In a 2012-2013 study conducted by the University of Denver's Marisco Institute for Early Learning and Literacy in the Morgridge College of Education, 83% of the teachers responding noticed a change in their students in terms of reading and writing. Over 82% reported that the program inspired them to work differently with students when they write. WITS students at Clara Metz Elementary School in Denver earned statistically significant higher 2012 TCAP writing scores than their peers who did not participate in the workshops.
WITS Motivates Students to Write
As opposed to writing assignments that may only circulate within the classroom or school, WITS offers students the experience of seeing their writing in a clean, professionaly designed and perfect-bound book. The anthology functions as a highly effective motivator for students to stay engaged with writing lessons and produce quality work.
WITS Builds Self-Esteem
Working together with a WITS teacher to edit and improve their work and seeing their final product in print raises students' confidence in their own creative abilities, paving the way for a more positive learning experience and higher-quality writing in future classes.
WITS Encourages Productive Self-Expression
Guided writing exercises help students find their individual voices and put their feelings down on paper, helping them grapple and deal productively with an array of thoughts and emotions. Writing is as much an avenue of expression as it is a skill, and WITS gives students the opportunity to express themselves free from the constraints of grades and red ink.
Colorado Humanities began the WITS program in 2008 at seven schools in the Denver area, and has since expanded to schools in the Boulder, Golden, Greeley, and Pueblo areas, as well as schools across the Continental Divide in Durango, Parachute, and Grand Junction. In addition to annual support from grants by the National Endowment for the Arts and Colorado Creative Industries, WITS has established partnerships with passionate parents and organizations - such as the Western Colorado Writers' Forum in Grand Junction - to sustain the program in Colorado communities. For more information, please visit the Participating Schools and the Bring WITS To Your School pages, or download our fact sheet.
Writers-in-residence are solicited by open invitation and chosen for artistic merit as well as for their ability and experience teaching K-12 students. Writers-in-residence participate in trainings led by WITS master teachers - teachers who have practiced and documented proven strategies for teaching the WITS program. To see a list of our WITS writers-in-residence or for more information on how to become a WITS writer, please see the Writers page.
Writers in the Schools is designed to support teachers’ class curriculum goals. Before a writer enters your classroom a mandatory meeting between teacher and writer takes place, during which class curriculum goals are discussed and outlined, so that our writers can build their lesson plans accordingly. Participation fulfills all three Colorado model content standards for Writing and Communicating: Expression and listening, Reading for all purposes, and Writing and Composition for all grades.