Did you know that regular writing could improve your students’ test scores? A recent study demonstrated that just ten minutes of expressive writing improved the scores of anxious test takers. Another study showed that writing improved students’ critical thinking skills and their ability to learn content. In addition, studies in social and positive psychology have proven that writing benefits our physical and emotional health. Add to all that data the fact that employers want workers who can communicate well!
Rochelle Melander, an author and certified professional coach, founded Dream Keepers in 2006 to teach writing to children in Milwaukee. Since then, she has brought her creative writing programs to schools and libraries across southeastern Wisconsin as well as to national writing, coaching, and training conferences.
The Power of Purpose
The writers profiled in Mightier Than the Sword were driven to change the world by their own sense of personal purpose. After one of her friends was lynched, Ida Wells wanted to eradicate lynching. Patsy Mink sought to create opportunities for young women of color because she struggled so fiercely. Octavia Butler wanted to write the stories of Black people because she grew up reading only about white characters. Learn how purpose influenced the writers in Mightier and get inspired to find your own purpose!
Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries
What does it take to become a rebel, reformer, or revolutionary who changes the world through writing? Good grades? Rich parents? A recording contract? Nope. Darwin did poorly in elementary school and dropped out of two college programs before he found the right one. Many of the authors in Mightier grew up poor, struggled with learning disabilities, and didn’t have special advantages. But they changed the world. You’ll hear their stories and get inspired to write your own!
Write to Change
What laws would you like to change? From stopping unfair policies in your community to impacting state and national laws, you can make a difference. Students will read stories of people who changed laws through writing: the founders and early representatives of the United States, Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., United States Representative Patsy Mink, biologist Rachel Carson, and students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Then students will write their own documents for change. Writing exercises can include: writing a declaration of independence, warning poetry, laws–or a how-to document!
Write to Protest
Do you have something to protest? Read about people who used writing to protest injustice: Reformer Martin Luther, Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist Sojourner Truth, teenagers Hans and Sophie Scholl, Raptivist Sonita Alizadeh, young writer Sophie Cruz. The workshop can feature a number of writing activities including writing a protest document, a critique, a declaration of teachers and students can choose from a number of writing projects to protest including an editorial, letter to the editor, political cartoon, social media meme, protest song, or tweet.
Poetry workshops offer fun, innovative tools to get students writing verse. Rochelle will talk about the poets in Mightier Than the Sword—writers like Phillis Wheatley, Wang Zhenyi, Audre Lorde, and Langston Hughes. The workshop can center on a variety of themes including: Writing Haiku and More; Boing! Boom! Bam! Onomatopoeia Poems; The Six-Word Memoir, Found Poetry, Blackout and Whiteout poetry, Disgusting Love Poems, and more.
Writing Your Happily Ever After: Journaling to Achieve Goals
Journaling improves memory and sleep, boosts productivity, improves immune cell activity, and supports goal achievement. And so many of the writers in Mightier Than the Sword, from Charles Darwin to Anne Frank, were devoted diary keepers. In this fun and engaging workshops, participants will try a variety of exercises that they can use at any time to cope with test anxiety, a difficult day, or just for kicks! Exercises include: The Six-Word Memoir, Imagining My Happily Ever After, The Bucket List, The Gratitude Note, Superhero Me! and more.
The How-To Book
Whether you’re studying science, cooking, or auto mechanics, it’s important to be able to tell people how you did it! In this workshop, students will hear stories of other people who created how-to books—like Ada Lovelace and Louis Braille. Then they will tap into their genius and write (and illustrate) a teenie-tiny how-to guide. Past participants have taught their peers how to blow bubbles, walk dogs, or be a superhero.
The Book of Me: A Collection of Poems and Stories about Me
Students love telling their personal stories! Throughout history, people have explored their identity and shared their stories in multiple forms. Your class can choose to learn about a variety of famous writers who explored identity such as Sojourner Truth, Helen Keller, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler, Jan Morris, and Sandra Cisneros. From researching their names to examining their values, students will craft poems and stories about who they are, what they love, and who they want to be when they grow up.
From Premise to Published
What does it take to be a journalist? Study the lives of journalists who made it: Ida B. Wells, Nellie Bly, George Orwell, Mary Garber, and more. Then students will jump right in to the writing world by submitting their query letters to real publications! In this multi-session class, students will develop a list of writing territories, craft a sellable idea, research potential markets, write and revise a query letter and submit their idea or article for possible publication. (Best for upper elementary through high school.)
National Novel Writing Month offers students a rare opportunity to write an entire novel in a month (okay, a novella, which is a really short novel). Students learn how to develop characters, create a setting, dream up an adventure, and write it all down in story form!