Guest Editor’s Introduction

Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School, jorgensene @ arrowheadschools.org

This issue invited contributors to share successful, inventive instruction, lessons, assignments and perspectives that teach facets of creative writing. In our call for submissions, Pruitt and I quoted the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, which argues that “writing cannot be taught” but that “writers can be encouraged.” Whether or not you believe literary creativity can be taught, I hope you agree that certain skills can be enhanced. Students can acquire insight into what constitutes effective or realistic description, style, narrative, characterization or use of language. They can also learn about voice, diction, plotting, setting and figures of speech as well as how to craft dialogue that reveals a character’s personality, social position and values.

Frankly, I write alongside my students because I aim to model the challenges and triumphs of brainstorming, writing, editing and polishing prose, poems, essays, articles and short stories. I, like my students, share my work with editors, journals, newspapers, writers’ workshop groups, and the education community, experiencing both successes and failures. My own teaching relies on a belief that all students, of all abilities, can write for authentic audiences beyond my classroom walls. Of course, I remind myself that my students are immersed in the messy process of sloughing off the stuff of childhood and, as the years advance, becoming more astute, more soulful, and more adult in their abilities to communicate. With this in mind, I envision myself a coach and editor (rather than critic and grader), helping guide students to more articulate, beautiful or effective prose. I hope this section of the Wisconsin English Journal serves as similar inspiration for writing instructors.

Teacher isolation is often referred to as the main impediment to professional development. After reading these articles, I hope you are reminded that your counterparts are also providing meaningful feedback, collaborating, and assessing for learning. In addition to connecting a community of writing instructors, this section should help you improve lessons, embolden students, and produce lifelong writers.

In editing articles, I was invigorated by an introduction to professional resources I was previously unaware of. I hope you too are encouraged to connect with writing teachers and communities through social media or conferences or other publications. I also hope we motivate you to write about your own experiences both inside and outside your classroom. We are all writers—all with our own stories to share. Please consider contributing your voice, classroom experiences, lessons and research to this community. I recommend starting with a future issue of the Wisconsin English Journal.

The Text Is in the Context: Calling for a Social Turn in Creative Writing Pedagogy

Kara Mae Brown, College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, karamae.brown @ ccs.ucsb.edu

Abstract. Brown argues that creative writing can be taught when those teachers possess evidence-based knowledge about what works in the writing classroom. In particular, creative writing could learn from the “social turn” in composition, the recognition that writers are influenced by their communities and therefore students must learn to write with a community in mind.

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Food Stories as Embodied Writing: Practical Creative Writing Pedagogy

Gregory Stephens, Associate Professor of English, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, gregory.stephens @ upr.edu

Abstract. Stephens shows that the transferable skills obtained through creative writing pedagogy can also be taught in English Language Arts contexts. For example, intercultural food stories can illustrate Common Core standards through a case study which fulfills the emphasis on narrative as one of three necessary types of writing.

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Using Creative Writing Pedagogies to Teach the Job Application Package in Technical Communication

Janice Cools-Stephens, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, janice.cools @ upr.edu

In technical communication classes, students are always very enthused about learning how to construct and design cover letters and resumés because they see those items as having immediate relevance. There are often job fairs on many university campuses where students will take their resumés in the hopes of obtaining a job. Additionally, students are often applying for internships, which require submitting a cover letter and a resumé. Thus, for many students cover letters and resumés seem more practical and relevant than learning about Readers and their Contexts of Use, Usability, and Ethics, for instance, all common topics in technical communication classes. While most students are often enthused about “Starting Your Career” or “Job Application Materials,” as it is often labelled in technical communication textbooks like Johnson-Sheehan’s (2017) Technical Communication Strategies Today and Markel’s (2013) Technical Communication respectively, they often have great difficulty constructing those documents. Continue reading

Excavating the Soul: The Milwaukee Public Museum Student Poetry Competition

Richard Hedderman, Education Programs Coordinator, Milwaukee Public Museum, hedderman @ mpm.edu

Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead Union High School, jorgensene @ arrowheadschools.org

Abstract. Hedderman discusses his approach to evaluating the poems as they’re submitted to the student poetry competition, while Jorgensen provides a classroom perspective.

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Accommodating All Students: A Co-Teaching Approach to Creative Writing

Heidi Hamilton, Arrowhead High School, hamilton @ arrowheadschools.org
Elizabeth Jorgensen, Arrowhead High School, jorgensene @ arrowheadschools.org

Abstract. Hamilton and Jorgensen explore best practices both for co-teaching and meeting the needs of all students, including those in special education programs, in a creative writing classroom.

This article was inspired by a blog Jorgensen wrote for The Marquette Educator.

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