The Knight Writer books are each a collection of personal narratives (memoir) written by Colony Middle School students. A little history of how this came to be: Erin Gruwell, made famous in the Freedom Writers movie, first visited our school in 2009 and gave an inspirational message about the power of personal story. CMS students were so inspired that they wanted to share their meaningful experiences and have their voices heard. Volume 1: With These Hearts and Hands: Journeys of the Colony Middle School Knight Writers was published in the spring of 2011. The book had such a positive impact on others not only at CMS, but in our community and across the nation as it’s sold in bookstores and read in other classrooms. Teens expressed such an interest in writing and reading these stories that we wrote a second volume that was published in the spring of 2013. Now we have compiled stories for our third volume! See how our students develop as writers below.
Erin Gruwell Visit Inspires Writers
Erin Gruwell visited our school again on December 3, 2014. Gruwell presented to CMS students, previously published Knight Writers, Burchell and Wasilla High School students, parents and community members.
Following the inspiring kick-off by Erin Gruwell all CMS students joined in our annual writing event in every classroom to take time to capture their story for our third volume. The event provides an uninterrupted 90 minute block for students to get their ideas on paper, brainstorm and get started on a rough draft. Students then work with English/Language Arts (ELA) teachers to complete a final draft.
Getting Ready for the Writing Event
The Theme of Knight Writers: Volume 3, is Letting our Virtues Shine: How Our Strengths of Character Make Us Who We Are. It focuses on the virtues that shape student identity and how they help to make a positive difference in the school, community, or world; the experiences and relationships important to students and the moments that teach them who they are.
To help students learn about virtues and common strengths of character, ELA teachers go through a 5 day curriculum that includes definitions, inspiring video, brainstorming, partner writing, drawing and other techniques to help students to write.
Day 1 – To learn about virtues and common strengths of character.
Day 2 -- More in-depth exploration of virtues and strengths of character through inspiring stories.
Day 3 -- Make virtues more accessible for all students: everyone has a story to tell.
Day 4 -- Introduction on memoir writing.
Day 5 – Brainstorm, heart map and partner sharing discussion.
SelectionOnce students have finished their final drafts, the entire staff will meet to read and score the essays. The scoring process is not to judge quality of writing at this point, but to determine if there is a story to tell. Students whose essays are selected participate in a variety of editing opportunities to bring their essay to publishing quality.