Prairie Writer’s Workshop

Goals:

  • The workshop will develop a “mainstreet learning lab” to rethink how collective local knowledge in rural towns can serve as inspiration for new and creative approaches to traditional art practices based on the students’ authentic view of their community.
  • The course work will utilize a hybridized education model connecting twenty-first century education practices to our rural students and teachers, with face-to-face educational practices that provides community connectedness through shared ideas and mutual understanding.
  • This writing workshop transforms educational exchanges with learning that gives voice to a new generation of rural citizens while building fluency in writing techniques, design layout and publishing experience.
  • Students will build a strong sense of community through common experiences, learn in a real-world context and fully engage in the inquiry process, from problem to solution.

Format:

The Prairie Writer’s Workshop is a high-school level journalistic and creative writing project from the Applied Rural Arts program; initiated to preserve and celebrate rural culture in Colorado’s High Plains region. Coursework and workshops use place-based educational practices and are taught by community members which facilitates important intergenerational learning experiences. Fostering this  positive social engagement can build a  dynamic cultural aesthetic practice that reflects both the student and the teacher’s  relationship to the past, present and future of their rural community. Searching out and encouraging partnerships provides an opportunity to pivot current day educational practices from static and didactic to social and personal; hometowns become laboratories, farmers become teachers and main streets becomes the classroom.

The creative content developed from the workshop will be presented to the community as a bilingual (English and Spanish) supplement in the local paper. Its design and formatting will be aesthetically inspired by the punk rock zine, the rural Pennysaver and the Mini Page made popular in the 1970s. The Prairie Writer’s Workshop will not only transform educational exchanges and enhance alternative methods of teaching and learning but gives voice to a new generation of rural citizens.

Planning:

The Prairie Writer’s Workshop is a semester-long project that can be incorporated into English, Art or Career and Technology Education classes, meeting a variety of Colorado Department of Education Content Standards. Schools can adapt this to best fit their needs based on time and available resources. 

Identify what publishing & writing resources exist in your community; local papers, community or school newsletters, museums, writers, poets, journalists, retired teachers etc. and contact them about partnering with you to teach the students about creative and journalistic writing. We worked with the editor of the local newspaper to teach the rural journalism workshop and local novelist to teach the rural creative writing workshop. Encourage the workshop facilitators to help the students write, both creatively and journalistically about where they live (prompts provided in following lesson plans). Inquire if the local publishing outlets (newspaper, newsletters etc.) will publish the students work. Help the publishing outlets see this as a mutually beneficial opportunity to connect to a larger audience. A key component of community engagement in this workshop is providing the students an opportunity to learn from somebody outside of the usual classroom experience. Not only does this model engage the students in conversations with new adults in their community but it allows adults outside the school community to engage with students, creating broader inter-generational dialogues and interaction. Additionally, publishing the students’ work in a community wide written media form engages the students with an important local media form that is declining in rural areas and creates an opportunity for older audiences to hear their local youth’s voice and perspectives.

Promotion & Publicity

The Prairie Writer’s Workshop promotes the students’ rural perspectives in public education via a newspaper insert. At the end of the school year the partnering organizations will present a community wide presentation of the course materials. 

We invite you to see our videos to inspire you:

Rural Creative Writing Workshop

Rural Journalism Workshop

Download PDFs of our Prairie Writers Workshop Newspaper Inserts

Prairie Writer's Workshop Issue 01

Yuma High School + The Liberty School

Prairie Writer's Workshop Issue 02

Wray Colorado

Prairie Writer's Workshop Issue 03

Arickaree and Greeley Eastern High

Prairie Writer's Workshop Issue 04

Idalia High School

Prairie Writer's Workshop Issue 05

Fort Morgan High School