Beyond IQ

Writing to Promote Change

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Instructor: Hosanna Patience
5-10 students
Suggested Age Ranges: 13+ years old
Meets: Tuesday at 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Pacific time

Students will learn how the voices of the past changed our present, and how young voices can change the future. Students will explore the impacts of authors of the past by reading excerpts and essays from authors such as Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, David Foster Wallace, and Margaret Atwood. During in-class exercises, students will also learn to write poetry, fiction, and essays. Class discussions will also look at how young activists have used literature, essays and blogs to focus needed attention on important causes. During the last week, students will put their in-class works together to create an anthology.

Prerequisites: None


Week 1: What Matters and Why?

Students will begin thinking about what is important to them in their families, their lives, their environment, and the global community. Students will do activities to identify what matters most to them and discuss their thinking behind this.

Weeks 2-3: Poetry

  • Maya Angelou, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
  • Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise
  • Blas De Luna, “Bent to the Earth
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, “Speech to the Young
  • Martin Niemöller, “First They Came for the Jews
  • Margaret Walker, “For My People
  • Joseph Bruchac, “Steel

Week 4: Poetry Writing

Students will discuss poetry techniques, then work on writing poetry about an issue to which they want to draw attention. Each poem will be workshopped in class.

Weeks 5-8: Essays

Week 9: Essay and Memoir Writing

Students will learn essay writing versus memoir techniques and write about an issue to which they want to draw attention using autobiographical detail and/or fact finding.

Weeks 10-11:  Fiction

  • Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
  • Excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale
  • Excerpt from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath

Week 12: Short Stories
  • Shauna Singh Baldwin “Montreal 1962
Week 13: Fiction Writing

Students will learn fiction writing techniques, including setting, plot and tension, character,and more.  Students will then begin to work on writing a story about an issue to which they want to draw attention.

Week 14: Voices of Today’s Youth and Finding Your Voice

Class will discuss the young voices today and how they use the internet to be heard, including Emma Gonzalez, Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martine, Payla Jangid ,“Mari” Copeny, Malala Yousafzai, Marley Dias.

Week 15: Work on “Voices of Today,” Anthology

Assignments, required materials, and other relevant information

Teacher will supply the poetry, essays, short stories, and novel excerpts to students to read in class.

There will be three writing assignments: poetry, essay/memoir, and fiction if students need to be finishing the work that they began in class.

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