Welcome to the Wexler Online Writing Workshop!
Most kids in grade school are taught to write in very specific ways, about very specific topics and subjects. The school curriculum is heavily focused upon reading the standard classic novels that the curriculum expects kids to have read, and the writing education is very closely linked to these books. Read a book, write a paper on it; this is the main mode of writing education in our schools.
Yet that teaches exactly one thing: How to analyze a particular text and write that analysis into a paper. Kids are taught to cite examples to back up their arguments, but very often this leads to a proficiency in one kind of writing that becomes rote.
There are so many different ways of using the written word to express an idea. While school curricula seem intent on focusing that writing on literary works, we here at WOWW believe that it is equally important to know how to write in different ways. Some of these ways include:
- Subjective opinions
- Defending one side of a two-sided argument
- Creative writing
- Personal essays
- Analyzing a variety of media and genres beyond literature (film, television, fine art, sci-fi, politics, news, etc.)
While the mode of using data or examples or fact to back up an argument is certainly an important lesson to learn, it is just the tip of the iceberg in the world of writing. We believe that breaking through the tip of this iceberg is an incredibly important task, one that will contribute to many aspects of an individual’s life for its entirety. And the earlier one starts, the more natural this kind of writing will become.
Writing is FUN!
Aside from focusing on one particular method of writing, the English class curriculum also restricts the topics that students are able to explore. Students are often forced to write analytical papers about books they did not enjoy or find relevant. This can often lead to a disinterest in writing, which in turn can result in a lack of proficiency and quality. Yet the ability to communicate effectively is at the cornerstone of human interaction, and the ability to express oneself through words is paramount in almost every aspect of life. From writing your college admissions essay to cover letters for job applications and business-related discussions, the ability to effective put words to paper is essential to success.
With these facts in mind, why are so many kids these days so disinterested in writing? We believe it is because they aren’t given the opportunity to explore writing in their own way during the formative years of grade school, such that they don’t realize the potential that writing has for fun and satisfying the intellectual curiosity. By letting our students often pick the subject of their own essays, we believe they can begin to see just how amazing the world of writing can be.
How our workshop works
Every Monday, we will send out a prompt. The prompt can range in type from opinion pieces, arguments, analysis, creative writing, reactor many other fields—yet within the bounds of these categories, students will usually have the ability to pick the particular subject they choose to write about. The prompt will also often be rather general, letting the student explore the assignment as he or she sees fit.
Students are asked to write a short essay in response to the prompt over the course of the week; we ask that students submit their pieces by the following Monday at 9am. Over the next few days, the essay will be read, checked for basic grammar, spelling, and typographical errors, and then returned with constructive comments.
The comments are by no means grades! They are meant to encourage the writer to think even more about how their writing can improve, how their thinking can improve, and how their ability to express themselves can expand to new and bigger places.
What is the goal of the workshop?
The primary goal of participating in the workshop is to become a better writer, but to do so in a way that is fun, constructive, and friendly. There is no pressure to achieve anything more than what each student wants out of his or her own writing. There are no grades, and no judgments—only constructive growth.
How do the prompts work?
The writing prompts come in several categories and styles, from argumentative or persuasive writing to opinions and thought pieces. Often the material will come from within, purely from the mind of the author, yet sometimes the writer might be asked to react to an article or other tidbit on the internet. Sometimes the prompt will provide for a humorous answer, other times the writer will be asked to get serious and thoughtful.
Some examples include:
- What’s better: chocolate or vanilla?
- Who’s the most important person in your life, and why?
- Sell me something—anything you want. Why do I need or want it?
- Who’s the most powerful superhero?
- What’s the one place in the world you feel most comfortable?
- Describe your ideal meal. What makes it so special for you?
- What is your most important personal keepsake? Why do you cherish it?
- Imagine you’re a grandparent sitting with your grandkids, who are as old as you are currently. They ask you about your favorite memory from your childhood. What do you tell them, and why?
- Politics vs. Religion
- Puppies vs. Kittens