With the help of more than a dozen authors from around Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction is filling a void in the world of educational materials.
It’s been hard — until now — for students or teachers to find online materials that show exactly how professional writers do their work.
That’s why the department began publishing Wisconsin Writes, a series of online video “walk-throughs” in which Wisconsin authors take the viewer through their work on a typical day.
“I appreciate that so many of our state’s professional writers allowed the public to ‘shadow’ them by opening up their workspaces to this educational video series,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.
Featured writers include a New York Times bestseller; the state’s poet laureate; children’s authors; writers of non-fiction, fiction, and more.
“For our students to graduate ready for career and college — no matter what field they want to go into — they need writing and other literacy skills,” Evers said. “How better to learn these skills than from people who have built a successful career around them?”
The DPI’s Marci Glaus, an English language arts education consultant, visited writers in their usual writing spaces to provide an authentic look at habits, techniques, and environments of this group that has so much to offer students.
In the series, each author appears in two types of videos. First, they demonstrate their writing process by moving forward on an actual piece they were working on. The second element, a straightforward interview, gives students advice on writing and a sense of what it’s all about.
The series will also include at least one student and a select number of not-yet-published authors — to help make the point to young viewers that one doesn’t need to make money from writing in order for these skills to be enjoyable or valuable.
Wisconsin Writes began this fall, with installments released approximately biweekly. Videos released so far feature the following authors (an example published title for each including):
- Silvia Acevedo (Greenfield), young adult fiction (God Awful Loser)
- Molly Magestro (West Bend), non-fiction and fiction (Assault on the Small Screen)
- Kimberly Blaeser (Burlington), poetry (Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Goodbye to All That)
- Patrick Rothfuss (Stevens Point), fantasy, persuasive writing (The Name of the Wind)
Numerous other writers from throughout the state donated their time to help students understand writing. Most of the following writers will appear in the series between now and the end of the 2015-16 school year:
- Moy Ahmad and Jennifer Van Haaften (Fort Atkinson), middle grade / young adult fiction (not yet published)
- Ann Bausum (Janesville), non-fiction (Sergeant Stubby)
- Nickolas Butler (Fall Creek), fiction, drama (Shotgun Love Songs)
- Micah Clarke (Verona), children's books, young adult fiction (not yet published)
- Linda Godfrey (Elkhorn), non-fiction (American Monsters)
- Patricia (P. C.) Hodgell (Oshkosh), fantasy (The God Stalker Chronicles)
- Pernille Ripp (Oregon), educational non-fiction (Passionate Learners)
- Karyn Saemann (Deerfield), non-fiction, children’s, journalism (Electa Quinney)
- Tasha Schuh, Doug Michaels, and Jan Pavloski (Ellsworth), memoir (My Last Step Backward)
- Stuart Stotts (DeForest), children's books, lyrics, nonfiction (Curly Lambeau)
- Jennifer Zettel (Appleton), journalism (Appleton Post-Crescent)
The Wisconsin Writes series can be found at dpi.wi.gov/Wisconsin-Writes.