Now in our fourth year, we're going to work with fifth graders at Leslie Intermediate School in Searcy County, and a homeschool group in Marshall, to produce two volumes of short stories written by children. In this project, we use creative and fun activities to help the kids through the process of writing and editing their work. At the end of the program, the children's work are showcased in professionally bound books. Each child gets a free copy of the book in which their work appears.
Countless studies have shown the correlation between how well a child reads and writes and how well they'll perform later in life. A child who graduates with below proficient literacy skills won't qualify for the technologically demanding careers emerging today. That young adult will enter the workforce at a stark disadvantage, and will statistically be more likely to subside at or below the poverty line.
To build mastery in a skill, a person has to own it. They have to be passionate about that skill. We often illustrate this point with the football analogy. No child grows up to be a star quarterback if they only ever throw a football in gym class. Likewise, no child masters literacy skills if they only read or write in English class. This program creates real incentives and generates community validation--both of which are proven reinforcers.
This project is designed to get kids excited about writing. By giving them ownership and creative liberty, they have proven to be eager and willing participants. The validation these kids receive when their family and friends read the published story that they have written communicates to the child that this accomplishment is worth more than just another grade. It becomes part of a legacy, one they share and reflect on as time goes by, one that helps kindle a love of the written word, and which reminds them that anything is possible.
Risks and challenges
The main challenge to this project is that its timeline is governed by the school's academic schedule. The children of the focus group (fifth grade) are chosen months before the project begins. If the participating teacher feels that the children need to review a segment prior to beginning the program, it can affect our beginning dates by a few weeks. We're slated to begin working in-class with the children in early January, with all stories written, edited and turned in by the end of the third quarter. This deadline allows us 9 additional weeks to complete the work, should delays occur.
The second major challenge is the cost of publishing and postage rates. Both have been figured prior to initiating this Kickstarter campaign, with the assumption that rates will stay relatively consistent throughout the duration of the school year. In our request for $500 is a little "wiggle room," specifically set aside for any unexpected costs in publication, layout or printing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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