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Writing for a Change: Boosting Literacy and Learning Through Social Action

National Writing Project, Kristina Berdan (Editor), Ian Boulton (Editor), Elyse Eidman-Aadahl (Editor), Jennie Fleming (Editor), Launie Gardner (Editor), Iana Rogers (Editor), Asali Solomon (Editor), Richard Sterling (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-0-7879-8657-5
192 pages
September 2006, Jossey-Bass
Writing for a Change: Boosting Literacy and Learning Through Social Action (0787986577) cover image


Writing for a Change shows teachers how to engage students in “real world” problem-solving activities that can help them to acquire voice, authority, and passion for both reading and writing practice. Written in collaboration with the Center for Social Action in England, the book describes the innovative Social Action process for encouraging students to collaborate on problems of their own choosing—to analyze options, develop action plans, discover solutions, and finally to reflect on their work. Featuring stories by teachers who have successfully used the method, the book shows that first graders as well as high-school students can enjoy this exciting and educational process. Practical guidance for applying the process to any curricular area is provided along with an extensive list of classroom activities.
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Table of Contents

Foreword, Richard Sterling xi

Sponsors xiii

Preface xv

Editors and Contributors xxi

ONE Exploring Student-Driven Learning and Literacy Through Social Action 1

PART ONE Social Action in Practice 9

TWO Power Play 11
Paula Laub

THREE Lending Student Voice to Curriculum Planning 19
Dietta Poston Hitchcock

FOUR The Story of the Youth Dreamers: In Their Own Words 25
Mildred Harris, Chantel Morant, Shanta Crippen, Chris Lawson, Chekana Reid, Cierra Cary, Tiffani Young-Smith

FIVE Reflections on the Youth Dreamers 31
Kristina Berdan

SIX Community Action in a Summer Writing Institute 43
Chinwe “La Tanya” Obijiofor

SEVEN Changing Our World 51
Lori Farias, Critics of Society Class

EIGHT Poetry and Power in the Creative Writing Workshop 57
Maggie Folkers

NINE Shall We Dance? 63
Connie Ellard Bunch

TEN The March on John Philip Sousa 67
Elizabeth A. Davis

ELEVEN Social Action and Parent Involvement 73
Mildred Serra

PART TWO Getting Started with Social Action 79

TWELVE Learning from Social Action: Reflections on Teaching and Social Action 81

THIRTEEN Principles for Practice: What Is Social Action? 87
Jennie Fleming, Ian Boulton

FOURTEEN Recommendations for the Classroom: Before You Start 97
Jennie Fleming, Ian Boulton

PART THREE Stuff You Can Try: Activities for Social Action 107

Metro Map 111

Naming the Group 113

Community Vocabulary 115

Devising the Vision 117

How We Behave in Groups 119

Movie Poster 121

Four Faces 124

But Why? 127

Codes 132

Changing Your Mind 134

Sculpts 136

The Three C’s 138

SWOT 140

Ideal Specimen 142

Force Field Analysis 144

Worst Nightmare 147

Now/Soon/Later 149

The Swimming Pool 151

Messages 153

References 155

Resources for Further Reading 157

Index 159

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Author Information

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a professional development program for teachers founded in 1974 at the University of California. Through its nationwide network of teachers and training sites, the NWP seeks to promote exemplary writing instruction in every classroom.

Kristina Berdan has been a teacher for eight years and currently teaches language arts to seventh graders at the Stadium School in Baltimore,Maryland. She also works with sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade Youth Dreamers at school and is president of the Stadium School Youth Dreamers, Inc., working alongside youth officers. A National Board Certified Teacher, she is also a part-time faculty member at Towson University and a teacher-consultant with the Maryland Writing Project.

Ian Boulton has worked as a trainer and community worker for twenty-five years. He is a partner in The Social Action Company, a group of consultants that use Social Action methods to develop social care and community projects in Eastern Europe.

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl directs national programs and site development for the National Writing Project (NWP) at the University of California, Berkeley. A former high school English teacher and university teacher educator, she has been both a teacher-participant and a national leader in a range of teacher learning networks in the NWP and in other professional organizations. Her founding work with the collaboration between the NWP and the Centre for Social Action grows out of a long-standing interest in teachers’ learning from literacy work and youth work in out-of-school settings.

Jennie Fleming began her working life as a youth and community worker on voluntary and statutory youth work projects in the United Kingdom. Since 1995, she has worked actively to develop Social Action practice at the Centre for Social Action (CSA) at De Montfort University in England. She has been part of the collaboration between the CSA and the National Writing Project from its inception.

Launie Gardner has been a teacher for sixteen years and currently teaches eleventh- and twelfth-grade English, civics, and economics at Truckee Meadows Community College High School in Reno, Nevada. She also serves as co-chair of the board of directors of Rainshadow Community Charter High School, a school that is attempting to integrate interdisciplinary, project-based, and communitybased hands-on learning. She served as director for the Northern Nevada Writing Project and remains involved with its professional development activities focused on Social Action.

Iana Rogers is national programs manager for the National Writing Project (NWP) at the University of California, Berkeley. She has been working with the collaboration between the NWP and the Centre for Social Action since 2001.

Asali Solomon has been working with the National Writing Project collaboration with the Centre for Social Action since 2000. She is currently assistant professor of English at Washington & Lee University in Lexington,Virginia, where she teaches African American literature, composition, and creative writing and often uses Social Action activities with her students.

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"This informative paperback discusses the development of teacher-facilitated and student-driven social action projects." (Childhood Education, Fall 2007)

"This book engages with an integrative framework of literacy acceleration and critical social action." (PsycCritiques, 09/06/2007)

"This is the book educators have been waiting for: practitioner guidance on combining literacy education and community problem solving to create a powerful form of service-learning in which students can master critical academic and civic competencies."
—Betsey McGee, former senior program officer, Academy for Educational Development

"An excellent book, celebrating and demonstrating practical social action approaches that support children and young people to make change happen in their schools, in their communities, and in their lives. A timely and vital challenge to educationalists in formal and informal settings on both sides of the Atlantic, invigorating education for empowerment and social change, showing that citizenship can only be learned through doing."
—Bill Badham, development officer, The National Youth Agency (England)

"A perfect combination of inspiration and practical advice. Chock-full of ideas and activities that eat away a sense of powerlessness and turn angst into action."
—Wendy Saul, professor of education and international studies, University of Missouri—St. Louis

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