What would happen if nationally recognized journalists and writers, award-winning college professors, and the resources of God's World News and WORLD Magazine joined forces? We asked this question and then posed an even more compelling one: What would happen if a young student learning to write had access to these journalists, writers, professors? This curriculum is our answer.
Write with WORLD aims to produce young writers who love writing, can write effectively, and who can intelligently share their ideas, beliefs, and worldview. We hope to support a generation of young believers who aspire to use their writing skills in the service of God's Kingdom and explain effectively the reasons for their beliefs.
Learning to write well is one of the greatest and most important challenges students will face. Creating young writers-particularly students learning the building blocks necessary for writing with meaning-requires time, effective assignments, practice, conversation, and encouragement.
Most importantly, they need to enjoy what they are doing: to write well, young writers must develop a love and excitement for writing. Middle school students can achieve excellence, but quality writing begins with quality teaching and a passion for, and enjoyment of, the composing process.
Unfortunately, many young writers learn the opposite lesson. Too many students are taught to dislike writing. They learn that writing is a trivial, rules-based skill that has little impact on their learning or future calling. They learn that writing is an either-or proposition: writing is either good or bad, right or wrong.
For these students, writing becomes a painful process shaped by regulations, busy work and "canned" assignments. They learn to regard grammar as unimportant and inconsequential-as a skill disconnected from their learning and the world. These students see writing as tedious-as a process that puts them through meaningless steps for no audience or real purpose beyond getting a grade. They learn to write in a vacuum.
Write with World teaches the skills necessary for becoming an effective writer while encouraging students to step outside the vacuum. Young writers need to see models of excellent writing on a regular basis. They need to read materials produced by published authors, and they need to engage in conversations with writers. They need opportunities to practice using language with a purpose and without the stress of being graded. They need writing assignments that are timely and thought-provoking. They need readers. They need thoughtful responses to their efforts.
Clearly, parents and teachers play a major role in fostering a love for writing. A primary goal of this curriculum is to help you fulfill this most significant role. The passion shaping this writing curriculum grows from the authors' experiences and research. For the past 18 years, we have worked with writing teachers in middle schools, high schools, and universities. As consultants, we've helped teachers develop effective teaching methods and revise their curricula to include thoughtful writing assignments. In graduate seminars on writing, we've taught aspiring middle and high school teachers how to motivate students and instill a passion for prose.
Like everyone working with this curriculum, our most influential experiences come from our own lives as students, teachers, and writers. As students, we have sat in the classroom with teachers who cared only about correctness and ignored our ideas and content; as young writers, we've learned to dislike writing because teachers assigned "canned" prompts. We know well the negative impact of poor assignments, curricula, and uninformed teaching.
Write with WORLD concentrates on developing young writers who can think and express their thoughts through writing. Students using Write with WORLD are connected to other writers-WORLD journalists, writers from God's World News, celebrated writing professors, and student authors. Students will benefit from these writers' advice. They will respond to timely and thoughtful assignments that encourage them to discuss ideas and language with teachers. The potential for publication will energize students, giving them purpose and audience.
Write with WORLD replicates the processes, assignments, opportunities, and moments that taught us to love writing.
Students belong to a community of writers and have an audience
Students need conversations with both writers and teachers. Write with WORLD offers these communities. Lessons offer relevant advice and commentary from published writers: God's World News and WORLD journalists, photojournalists, essayists, and editors. English professors who specialize in teaching writing design the lessons and they also offer special "teaching moments" based on their experience. Students need to understand that the problems and challenges they face are the same ones published authors face. Students will strive for excellence knowing that their writing could be read and potentially published by these authors, editors, and professors.
Students see the curriculum as a living, up-to-date conversation
Dull, general writing prompts will most likely produce dull, general prose and uninspired writers. Write with WORLD seeks to give students assignments that inspire quality writing. Assignments will emphasize purpose, role, and audience. Most importantly, assignments ask writers to engage the world around them and be updated regularly-to include current questions and material covered in WORLD Magazine and God's World News.
Students have access to multiple assignments to choose from in many lessons
Write with WORLD lessons sometime focus on developing necessary skills. Other lessons build up to major writing assignments. Most of these lessons offer multiple writing assignments. Students and teachers need flexibility and choice. Sometimes, a major writing prompt can cause writer's block: a student writer simply cannot relate to the question. In such a case, it helps the writer to have other opportunities. A student who is required to choose her major writing assignment is also more likely to feel committed to their writing before she ever begins to invent ideas.
Students who learn to read with critical eyes are more likely to become strong writers
Write with WORLD teaches students the art of critical reading. These lessons first use images to teach an eye-for-detail and invention; students then apply those lessons to words, sentences, and paragraphs. As students work their way through the curriculum, they continue to develop critical reading skills as they read and write about more complex essays and narratives.
Students will examine models-both strong and weak-to improve their writing
Students need models of writing. They need to study models of excellence to understand the characteristics of good writing. They need to inspect models with weaknesses that can be improved. Before starting an assignment, students need models of the genre they are composing.
Students learn style in the context of their own writing
Write with WORLD believes student writers need to develop their voice while they learn grammar. Grammar lessons are important. Students will not learn grammar as standalone rules. Instead, students will learn concepts and then apply the lessons to their own writings. Not only will students learn style but they will also learn to revise for correctness and style.
Students learn to write with a worldview
Write with WORLD wants students to understand that all writers have a worldview. More importantly, worldview influences writing from choice of topic to the premises underlying writing. A writer who views life as a gift from God will write differently from a writer who believes life began accidentally and has no ultimate purpose. Write with WORLD will train students to look for "worldview clues" in writing so that they become discerning readers. The curriculum also aims to help them discover their own voice as writers with a worldview of their own which they know how to articulate. We want students to learn to join the thinkers and writers of our day, with, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "conversation . . . full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that [they] may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6).
Writing teachers need ideas and support
Just as writers should not write in a vacuum, teachers should not teach in one. Write with WORLD offers multiple levels of support for teachers. In the teacher handbook, teachers can find rationales for assignments and approaches; they also have access to directions, teacher discussions, and suggestions. The web site will provide additional updated information and help.