A Vision for a
New Writing Center
The original cold fusion driven Kids Writing Center created in the mid-1990's was designed around the writing process. Students had a writing pod where they stores their stories. They essentially stepped through a series of menus that followed the writing process from brainstorming through story writing, editing and finally publishing. Students could collaborate and discuss works-in-progress in built-in text chat. While we tried to use multi modalities of expression -- art and music as well as the written word, there were real limits to what we could do beyond the written word. Click here to see a brief 2003 flash demo of the original writing center.
Two decades later, the technological landscape is changing significantly. The modem is being replaced by high-speed networks globally. The new writing center still needs to be built on the writing process metaphor and mastering writing is still the primary goal of the Corner.
But one thing we learned in our formative days was that multiple modalities of expression truly meant that you could teach writing to kids by tapping into methods of expression beyond the written word.
Storytelling is a universal language and needs to be expressed in different forms. When students with strong writing skills work but fewer artistic or music skills collaborated with students who with musical, singing and drawing ability while lacking some basic writing skills, creating the same story in each modality not enriched the story, it enhanced the creative and writing skills of each student.
So the new writing center needs to bring together people who have the talent to integrate a more powerful multimedia-centered web into its design that will open up exciting new learning experiences and creative opportunities for writers young and old.
These tools need to be integrated on top of the text-based chat model of the original Writer's Corner. Too often, new technologies replace older technologies instead of building upon the strengths of the older technologies. Good research always lead to an interesting story so the Internet tools are important.
But ultimately, our focus is on the written word. William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well (4th ed.) once wrote, good writing begins the the selection of one good word at a time, then one good sentence at a time and finally one good paragraph at a time. Ultimately, the Writers Corner will be about learning to write a good story .