Students Shine in Hands-on Writing Apprenticeship Program

When North View Middle School teachers decided students needed a spark to ignite their learning, they contacted COMPAS with an intriguing question.

Spoken word artist, Tou Saiko Lee, generating ideas with students

Spoken word artist, Tou Saiko Lee, generating ideas with students

“How many writers can we get here at the same time?”

North View’s literacy team knows students’ interests can vary as wildly as Minnesota weather in May and they wanted each student to work with a writer they could relate to.

Students work with cartoonist & writer Fiona Avocado, exploring ways to expand their cartooning storyboard

Students work with cartoonist & writer Fiona Avocado, exploring ways to expand their cartooning storyboard

Balancing the number of students with the school’s timeline and budget, we agreed 3 was the right number of writers for their “Writing Apprenticeship” week. But which three? COMPAS writers teach a wide range of genres: poetry, comedy, spoken word, short stories, non-fiction, comics/graphic novels, song writing, playwriting, memoir, fairytales, and more.

Comedy writer, Levi Weinhagen, helping with final edits before class presentations

Comedy writer, Levi Weinhagen, helping with final edits before class presentations

A creative approach to the dilemma heightened student buy-in and ownership of the special writing week.

COMPAS and North View assembled a presentation to inform students about their choices. After the presentation, each 7th and 8th grader voted on which genres most interested them. The winners were: spoken word (taught by Tou Saiko Lee); cartooning & writing (taught by Fiona Avocado); and comedy writing (taught by Levi Weinhagen). Students then got to select which of those three genres they would create during their writing apprenticeship.

During the week, over 300 middle schoolers experienced a new connection to writing.

Staff mentioned multiple times how students who often don’t participate were engaged, working, and growing as storytellers.

Eighth grader Joe summed up the week after reading his comedy monologue to his class. “I’m normally just into sports, but this was really fun. I had a couple of ideas that I shared [with COMPAS artist Levi Weinhagen] and worked on this week. This morning I didn’t think I could stand in front of everybody and read, but I’m glad I did. I can’t believe I got so many laughs.”

Read the full article from the Osseo Public School District’s newspaper here.  

Check out more options for creative learning through COMPAS' Creative Classroom programs!

By COMPAS staff member, Joan Linck