Duke-Durham Writes Studio

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Studio participants shared “artifacts” that shaped their identities as readers and writers.

The Duke-Durham Writes Studio, funded by the Office of Civic Engagement for the 2013-2014 school year, is notable not only for its initial success in using Duke student, staff, and faculty research to contribute to community educational outcomes, but also for its commitment to future sustainability. The studio’s close collaboration with public school teachers and administrators, and its focus on building long-term partnerships, aim to ensure that the program’s impacts last far beyond the 2013-2014 academic year.

Co-Convener Jennifer Ahern-Dodson asserts that in order to “conceive of deeply integrated civic engagement partnerships, we need to build on and learn from current models… while also documenting and assessing our own work. The DOCE grant helps forward that work by funding a research assistant to participate in our studio.” The studio’s aim is to explore literacy-based partnerships between the Thompson Writing Program and three Durham public schools, building a foundation for future programs and initiatives. Ahern-Dodson writes, “Our studio is a highly collaborative group that includes Durham Public School teachers and administrators, Thompson Writing Program faculty, and consultants from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Duke’s Neighborhood Partnership, the Writing Studio, and the Service Learning Program. To be most effective as a learning community… we need opportunities to learn from one another, to work collectively to understand pedagogical theories and best practices related to civic engagement, writing, and K-12 literacy, and to help shape projects at each of our three partnership schools.”

The Forest View Elementary group developed three proposals for pilot projects, including student writing projects, a Durham Public Library collaboration, and a writing retreat for families. The Lakewood Middle School working group developed two proposals: one for a future partnership between the school and select Duke Writing 101 classes, and another for a full-day writing event, called the Lakewood-Duke Writing Mash-Up.  In the Hillside working group, Duke undergraduates collaborated with Hillside ESL students to create a documentary video exploring the Hillside students’ experiences.

Participants will discuss their proposals at a final dinner meeting on Tuesday, May 6 from 7-9 PM in the Franklin Humanities Garage, Smith Warehouse.  This meeting will be open to the public.