• We all have the right to write. Anything we can say, we can write.
  • We all can write well if we are emotionally involved in our topic and our purpose. We find our voices there. Writing is learning and discovering. It develops best in real-life situations, with the instructor intervening in the writing process.
  • We learn to read by having written. We learn from our experiences, including experiences with oral and written texts. We should expose ourselves to many texts, and often do free-choice reading.
  • We learn best in collaborative, diverse, and supportive communities. We all learn in our own ways, and our home cultures affect how we interpret our experiences.
  • Moving through the writing process can produce powerful writing. We gain more ownership over our writing if we master the writing process.
  • Writing is a strong tool for developing critical thinking. Challenging our thinking as we write in collaborative settings, develops academic language proficiency.
  • We teach equitably:  not less, but more to the poor. We recognize our children's home communities and ancestral cultures as our educational partners.
Young Writers Clubs
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Authors Since the 2008-2009 school year, with the support of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, SELI has conducted extracurricular, process-writing Young Writers clubs for at-risk junior secondary school (JSS) students. Young Writers clubs aim to develop young Sierra Leonean authors while they also improve the communication, cultural awareness, and thinking skills of junior secondary school students in the schools where they operate. The clubs operate as writing workshops, and members are encouraged to see themselves as authors. No fees are charged and supplies are provided by the Sentinel English Language Institute (SELI).  SELI also provides public library memberships to the clubs, and is loaning packages of its own library's books to the club in a village that has no access to a public library.

English Language Learners (ELLs) Many junior secondary school students in Sierra Leone are "long-term English learners;" students who have acquired neither the English conversational language nor the academic language they need for school success despite having been taught in English since they began school. SELI has had success in working with long-term ELLs through the process-writing workshop, which is considered a "best practice" approach in school writing instruction. It is used for all students with the beliefs that everyone can learn to write, everyone has stories to tell, we learn by writing, and writing in a collaborative setting will help students succeed.  For ELLs it promotes second language acquisition in the four modes--writing, reading, speaking and listening--best when ESL strategies are incorporated into the workshop.

Strategies For example, in Young Writers clubs if the facilitator notices that many students are not just forgetting but do not understand why they need to include a 's to indicate possession, she holds a 10-minute mini-lesson in the workshop on how possession is shown in Krio.  Many of the students had not been aware of this structure that they use every day in Krio.  They play around with not using it, to see what difference it makes.  After the mini-lesson and the awareness it brings, they will still forget to use the 's, but now see forgetting it as a mistake.

Young Writers write true personal experiences and do all their multiple-draft writing in the community setting of the club. A pivotal stage in this process is conferencing, when peers ask the author content questions about their writing piece to help them revise. A strong background of working with true firsthand information in writing builds a rich knowledge base for authors of either fiction or nonfiction.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 July 2012 22:20
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