WRITERS IN THE SCHOOLS (WITS) supports creative writing enrichment in 3rd-12th grade classrooms throughout the Treasure Valley. During the school year, The Cabin employs professional local writers—poets, novelists, playwrights, and journalists—to teach semester- or school-year-long writing residencies in schools, juvenile detention centers, and community learning centers.
WITS begins with a few foundational assumptions. That collaboration between teachers and artists can make deeper student engagement in creative writing possible. That students are already artists with voices worth hearing, and unique visions of our world that deserve to be honored. That students of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can experience the power (and pleasure!) that comes from learning tools to help us read and write well. That school isn’t somehow separate from our communities or culture, but rather the place where community is first forged, reckoned with, changed for good. WITS engages with schools as spaces for making.
We offer 12- and 24-week creative writing residencies in poetry, fiction, nonfiction and playwriting lead by professional writers in our community. Please call The Cabin at (208) 331-8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about hosting a WITS teaching-writer in your classroom.
WITS Works for Students
All students can benefit from writing workshops with professional writers, and we focus our service in schools with high populations of low income and/or at-risk students. Our writing residencies emphasize experimentation, creativity and imagination above rules and conventions, helping students develop a commitment to reading and writing that lasts a lifetime.
Arts education has been shown time and time again to significantly improve students’ engagement in school. Longitudinal studies from the AEP show that arts education helps prepare students for college and careers, closes the achievement gap, and improves student investment and achievement in low-performing schools. Its effects are particularly salient for English language learners, students from low-income families, and youth who have struggled within the traditional school system for behavioral or cognitive reasons—many of whom WITS serves. Students’ own testimony speaks to the power of WITS: for instance, one child reported last year that “[The teaching-writer] taught me I could use writing to deal with my anger.”
WITS Works for Teachers
WITS residencies are custom-fit to support the curricular goals of each classroom teacher we serve. The foundation of WITS is a collaborative partnership between the teaching-writer and the classroom teacher which supports both educators as they adopt new approaches to teaching creative writing.
Studies from the AEP show that arts-rich curricula bolster teacher engagement and retention while reducing burnout and absenteeism. However, many teachers do not receive extensive training in creative writing as part of their degree and are thus reluctant to include it in their lesson plans. In learning from a Cabin teaching-writer as he or she interacts with their students, teachers gain new tools for leading discussions about literature and igniting creative thinking and writing in their classes.
As a part of WITS, your classroom will receive:
- Customized support for your students’ curricular goals including common core standards;
- An in-depth creative writing residency with a professional writer;
- Unique curricular materials and hands-on writing lessons for further classroom use;
- A printed collection of student work and the opportunity to appear in Cambia, a professionally published anthology of student writing;
- Detailed reports of the teaching and assessment methods used in your classroom.
Youth Education Statement of Beliefs What a WITS Lesson Looks Like
The Cabin is a proud member of The WITS Alliance: A professional network of literary arts education programs and individuals. Learn more at http://witsalliance.org/.
Creative Writing Lesson Plans at the Teachers & Writers Collaborative Digital Resource Center: http://twcresources.org/index.php.
WITS Works for Writers
In addition to excellent youth arts education, The Cabin provides artistic employment at a fair wage for local professional writers. Our teaching-writers are committed educators who are also professional poets, fictioneers, memoirists, playwrights and journalists, many with graduate degrees and extensive publications. Get to Know Our Teaching-Writers
Cambia, the annual WITS anthology of student writing
Writers in the Schools is made possible by generous support from:
Bank of the Cascades, Boise Cascade L.L.C., The City of Boise, Idaho Commission on the Arts and TumbleWords, Idaho Power, Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation, KeyBank Foundation, SOVRN Creative, The Idaho Community Foundation, The Kissler Family Foundation in the Idaho Community Foundation, The Nagel Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Walter and Leona Dufresne Fund in the Idaho Community Foundation, and The Whittenberger Foundation.