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Writing Prompt for Teens: What Issues Should Next US President Address?


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AA:    I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on WORDMASTER: encouraging high school students to write about the issues they want the next U.S. president to address.

RS:    That is the aim right now of the National Writing Project, a federally funded effort to improve writing and learning in American schools. Elyse Eidman-Aadahl is the director of national programs.  

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "We wanted to give teachers an online writing and publishing opportunity that they could tailor to their local curriculum and use as a way to help students use writing to think through their learning about the issues that were at stake in this current election. And so we now have close to six hundred schools participating.

"And in each one of those, teachers are approaching it with their students slightly differently. It could be a science teacher who's investigating science and environmental issues and will help students write about those issues. It could be an English language teacher who's having students pick the topics that are of most interest to them and make a persuasive case for them.

"In all those cases, the young people are not writing to pick their candidate, so much as what they are doing is they are talking about the issues that matter to them as young people because it's their future. And so we've titled the project actually 'Writing Our Future.'"

RS: "And this letter really is a persuasive letter. It's a letter illustrating someone's ideas and wanting the president to listen."

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "That's exactly right. And persuasion is so much about two things, I think. It's about having a point and being clear about your point and your evidence for it, and also having an audience and thinking about how to tailor that argument to make it something that will be persuasive to an audience.

"So in addition to the candidates, who we hope will be reading it, along with members of Congress and congressional staffs, the Web site that will publish these essays and letters will be read broadly by the public. So we're hoping that giving this sense of a broad audience will really be a reason for young people to be thoughtful, to research, to write and revise and revise, to try to make that persuasive piece as broadly communicative as possible."

RS: "How are you going to get these letters out to the public?"

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "Well, first off, of course, we do have to get letters in and on the Web site. So that certainly is step one. Actually, in addition to press coverage that we will have primarily here in the U.S., we also are going to be identifying letters especially by geographic region and we are going to be sending them to congressional offices.

"We're also having a second campaign where we're supporting people to read the letters and then make multimedia and video projects based on what they read in the letters. And we'll be using the letters and those bits of video to tour around the country, to hold community events, so the people can again hear the kinds of topics and issues that young people have written about."

AA: "Now, after the election, do you have any plans for what to do with this Web site, with all the letters?"

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "It's a good question! In addition to the video work and sharing those letters with people regionally, we want to see what's there, because there may be so many different things that we could do. There could be a way to pull them together by topic or other structure to provide readers for young people, so that they can see samples of high-quality student writing while they themselves are learning to become writers."

RS:    Elyse Eidman-Aadahl at the National Writing Project, which is sponsoring "Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future" for students age thirteen to eighteen. Eighteen is the U.S. voting age. The deadline for teachers to register is this Friday, September twelfth, at nwp.org. That's nwp.org.

AA:    Elyse says she would welcome contributions from teachers of English abroad. And so would we. Here is a chance for young people to practice persuasive writing. We'll post letters we receive on our Web site, voanews.com/wordmaster, and we'll read some on the air. We'll also forward them to the National Writing Project for possible inclusion on their site.

RS:    Our address is word@voanews.com. Or click on Contact Us at voanews.com/wordmaster. Be sure to include your name and age and also your mailing address if you would like to receive a VOA souvenir. Next week we'll talk more about the work of the National Writing Project.

AA:    And that's WORDMASTER for this week. With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.

AA:    I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on WORDMASTER: encouraging high school students to write about the issues they want the next U.S. president to address.

RS:    That is the aim right now of the National Writing Project, a federally funded effort to improve writing and learning in American schools. Elyse Eidman-Aadahl is the director of national programs.  

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "We wanted to give teachers an online writing and publishing opportunity that they could tailor to their local curriculum and use as a way to help students use writing to think through their learning about the issues that were at stake in this current election. And so we now have close to six hundred schools participating.

"And in each one of those, teachers are approaching it with their students slightly differently. It could be a science teacher who's investigating science and environmental issues and will help students write about those issues. It could be an English language teacher who's having students pick the topics that are of most interest to them and make a persuasive case for them.

"In all those cases, the young people are not writing to pick their candidate, so much as what they are doing is they are talking about the issues that matter to them as young people because it's their future. And so we've titled the project actually 'Writing Our Future.'"

RS: "And this letter really is a persuasive letter. It's a letter illustrating someone's ideas and wanting the president to listen."

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "That's exactly right. And persuasion is so much about two things, I think. It's about having a point and being clear about your point and your evidence for it, and also having an audience and thinking about how to tailor that argument to make it something that will be persuasive to an audience.

"So in addition to the candidates, who we hope will be reading it, along with members of Congress and congressional staffs, the Web site that will publish these essays and letters will be read broadly by the public. So we're hoping that giving this sense of a broad audience will really be a reason for young people to be thoughtful, to research, to write and revise and revise, to try to make that persuasive piece as broadly communicative as possible."

RS: "How are you going to get these letters out to the public?"

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "Well, first off, of course, we do have to get letters in and on the Web site. So that certainly is step one. Actually, in addition to press coverage that we will have primarily here in the U.S., we also are going to be identifying letters especially by geographic region and we are going to be sending them to congressional offices.

"We're also having a second campaign where we're supporting people to read the letters and then make multimedia and video projects based on what they read in the letters. And we'll be using the letters and those bits of video to tour around the country, to hold community events, so the people can again hear the kinds of topics and issues that young people have written about."

AA: "Now, after the election, do you have any plans for what to do with this Web site, with all the letters?"

ELYSE EIDMAN-AADAHL: "It's a good question! In addition to the video work and sharing those letters with people regionally, we want to see what's there, because there may be so many different things that we could do. There could be a way to pull them together by topic or other structure to provide readers for young people, so that they can see samples of high-quality student writing while they themselves are learning to become writers."

RS:    Elyse Eidman-Aadahl at the National Writing Project, which is sponsoring "Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future" for students age thirteen to eighteen. Eighteen is the U.S. voting age. The deadline for teachers to register is this Friday, September twelfth, at nwp.org. That's nwp.org.

AA:    Elyse says she would welcome contributions from teachers of English abroad. And so would we. Here is a chance for young people to practice persuasive writing. We'll post letters we receive on our Web site, voanews.com/wordmaster, and we'll read some on the air. We'll also forward them to the National Writing Project for possible inclusion on their site.

RS:    Our address is word@voanews.com. Or click on Contact Us at voanews.com/wordmaster. Be sure to include your name and age and also your mailing address if you would like to receive a VOA souvenir. Next week we'll talk more about the work of the National Writing Project.

AA:    And that's WORDMASTER for this week. With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.


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Source: Writing Prompt for Teens: What Issues Should Next US President Address?
TEXT = http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/archive/2008-09/2008-09-09-voa3.cfm?renderforprint=1
MP3 = http://www.voanews.com/mediaassets/specialenglish/2008_09/Audio/mp3/08-09-10youth-letters-president-pt1.mp3