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Jul 31
admin's picture

Commenting -- Overview

To create a writing classroom, feedback becomes an important part of the work. This is where youths learn that the secret to good writing is good self-editing, that exchange of feedback builds community and that external audience fosters purpose and self-motivation. In digital writing, the most complete method of providing feedback involves three and sometimes four circles of responses to the writing:

  • the writer reading his/her own work, 
  • the writer’s peers reading the work,
  • the teacher reading the work, and
  • the outside world reading the work. 

It is good for students and the teachers to talk about these audiences early on to determine their relative importance overall and in specific projects. How can these circles be involved in helping the students gain interest in, improve and polish their work? How can the students help each other? How can they use regular feedback to improve their ability to edit their own work?

Feedback Circle One:   Responding to One’s Own Writing
It is always important for the writers to know they have control and they need to crucial to take responsibility for their own learning, their own editing and for how the work turns out. It is important that they develop an ongoing reflective practice as they write. Here are some effective practices for a student writer:

  • Read a piece aloud, or, better yet, record it; reflect on what you noticed about the piece. Did it sound like you? Did your tongue trip up? Are their spots you want to change?
  • Set judgment aside: Too often we are hampered by our own self-judgment, "It's no good," "I'm no good at writing," or "I didn't have enough time." Those obscure your own ability to see what's good and what needs fixing.
  • Read and reflect: Read your post and then reflect on what you wanted the work to accomplish. Does it work? Are there some points not made? Some points that are not clear?
  • In a digital space, write a comment on your piece as if you were an outside reader. Notice what you are noticing and be specific.
The young writer should keep in mind that the process of reflection and reviewing one's own work never stops. The Nobel author Toni Morrison says that one time when she was publicly reading a passage of her work -- written 25 years previously -- she suddenly realized the word she had been searching for when she first wrote the piece.

Teachers, meanwhile, can help this self-reflection process by revealing their own early drafts, or finding drafts of famous authors' early work to slowly take away the great "mystery" of writing that so inhibits many young writers.

Feedback Circle Two: Peers Responding
Many teachers YWP has worked with over the years say that a key to good peer-to-peer feedback is trust. So from the first day of a class, students and teachers should work to build a classroom community in which students value and respect each other. It is important that the students feel they can take risk without being made fun of; they need to know that they are not judged. To gain voice, young writers need skills -- and confidence. This practice of building trust can be nurtured through a series of exercises, particularly in a digital space like the YWP classroom platform. It can be assisted by a regular practice of having students give each other constructive feedback on each other's writing. And it is greatly enhanced if the teachers are also posting in response to challenges and opening their own work to feedback.

In surveys and interviews with hundreds of young writers over the years, YWP has learned that students value peer feedback almost as highly as they value feedback from teachers and getting outside recognition (publication) for their writing. That is a remarkable finding. As adults, we tend to dismiss the power of peer feedback as a learning tool and look at "peer pressure" as a negative force.

So moving the students' writing out into a group, no matter how early on in the process, can be of real benefit. They can hear back what their writing means to readers who have only the words -- none of the thoughts or context or background that lie in the mind of the author.

There are several ways to do this feedback process:

  • Whether face-fo-face or on a digital classroom space, the rules of engagement should be clear. Allow the students to set the rules; YWP has done this exercise in countless classrooms and has been amazed to find that they prioritize exactly what adults would want, BUT since they are the students' rules, they are more apt to embrace them. The teacher can help the discussion by some well-placed questions, like, "Should everyone get a comment, and if so, how to we make sure that happens?" "What is the purpose of our commenting on each other's works?"
    • Overall, YWP suggests the 1+1 method, or ONE thing that the reader thought worked, or one observation they had about the piece or one thing that was surprising; and ONE thing the peer thinks the author could improve, or one thing that confused them or that they wondered about. 
  • Another suggestion: Make sure students go to the pieces that do not already have comments, that they choose students who they know least well and that they must accomplish 3 or 5 or 7 or whatever number within a certain time period. Make these comments part of their overall performance assessment. We also have developed in our own platform an ability for students and teachers to see whether responses to a challenge have garnered comments; this makes it easy to ensure that everyone gets some feedback.
  • In larger classes, set up feedback loops, groups of five students (rotating these groups every few weeks or so to keep the feedback unexpectedly fresh) per group, who, on the blog site, comment on each others' work.
  • Ask each writer to put in the comment section some questions of her/his own about the draft -- perhaps even suggesting some areas she/he needs help in.

There are a few things to keep in mind about peer-to-peer commenting in a digital space:

  • Everything the students write in digital spaces tend to be viewed as more harsh or more negative than they intended; they should watch the tone of their comments and ask themselves, "Would I want to receive this?" But students should be truthful.
  • Responders should be using phrases like "I wonder if..." rather than "You should do this..." This is all about honesty and respect.
  • From time to time, when you see comments that either really seem to do very little for the writer: “Hey, good job—I liked it a lot.  Keep everything just as you have it” or "that's amaaaazing" try to show the students that this is not what you -- or the student authors are looking for. Show this kind of response in class and talk about ways to work towards better responding. Some talking points:
    • How will responding well to other people’s writing serve our own writing?
    • How are reading well and writing well inextricably intertwined skills?
    • What is involved for us to read as writers and to write as readers?
    • How do we determine the intended audience of a piece? What are the expectations of different kinds of audiences? How can audience affect our choices in terms of content and expression? 
    • What are the essential elements to a story? A poem? An essay?
    • What is voice? 

Feedback Circle Three:  The Teacher Responding
Why not talk with the class about your role in the feedback circle? You have tremendous impact on your students. YWP has gleaned these interesting observations from students about their teachers:

  • They often put you in the same category as parents: "They had to tell me that it was good (or bad); he's my teacher."
  • They don't hear you clearly and often someone from the outside can say exactly the same thing and students will respond much more enthusiastically.
  • They see your primary purpose is to give a grade, to pass judgment.

Don't take it personally. Keep in mind how much help you can provide, but also understand that peers -- and even outside readers -- can help as much or more. A good rule of thumb in the feedback circle is to avoid full, teacherly responses for as long as possible, because no matter what you say, as soon as you do, the writer tends to not listen as much to his or her self or to peers. You then become the only audience that matters; you are the authority. 

Yet, particularly early in a semester, students crave your feedback; they want to hand things in the way they always have and get from the teacher what they need to do to make it an “A” level paper if it isn’t already. And, at the same time, you have much to offer -- you are experienced, you are a writer and you have opinions. So think about not writing detailed responses until the project is very near completion. And when you do respond, choose just a couple of issues most ripe for tackling and write about those.  Make sure you write about what works for you as a reader —where in the piece you find yourself thinking, engaged, enlightened.  She writes questions.

And make sure you can meet with students one-on-one in short (10-minute) conferences during which they are invited to bring something they feel is ready for your feedback. They must prepare for the conference by being ready to talk about their own response to the writing and about that of their peers. This is also a good opportunity to go into more detail about your written suggestions.

Here is another observation/siggestion that comes from YWP's experience of students doing digital writing: Teachers do not need to read everything students write on the YWP digital platform. This is a difficult concept. But students tend to write more online and you simply can't keep up. It's OK. In fact, a better use of your time is to provide honest, timely feedback on what you have read and on what is most important to the students.

The Fourth Circle:  Readers in the World

External audience is an extremely important part of the work in building a community of writers; this practice brings affirmation and internal motivation. YWP has worked with teachers who have brought outsiders into their sites or onto their students' blogs to comment. That's great but it is somewhat unwieldy. (If you would like YWP's help to set that up, we'd be glad to do so.)

But for the finished work, where is the audience? YWP suggests that the class, particularly when undertaking a part of the My Community Story program, think about who might be interested in what they create. School newspaper? School newsletter? Displayed on the walls? A public event in the cafeteria or auditorium? The local media? 

Think, too, about bringing other classrooms into the process or, even, pairing up with other schools in the state, country or across the globe. YWP can help with that, too.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Jul 28
Grace's picture

Editing Process

Editing and revising a piece can be one of the hardest parts of writing. Yet, it is one of the most important stages of writing. Here is a suggested process to help you organize yourself when editing. 

1. Read your piece to yourself to find big problems. 
       When editing, let yourself be the first set of eyes. ONLY look at big picture items. Things such as topic/theme consistency, relevancy, clarity, voice, tone, imagery, order, message, and length are often looked at in this stage. If you are writing a narrative, or if you have a person in your story, you'll often consider the person's voice or character consistency throughout. 
       This is the point where you will often cut sentences or paragraphs, change the order, rewrite entire sections of your piece, or change your wording to make your piece more clear. BIG things are happening.

2. Give your piece to a friend for feedback. 
      You're still not done with big picture editing. Now you need a new set of eyes to look for the same problems that you did. Ask a friend to look for big picture problems. 
      It's helpful to give them three or four guiding questions to let them know exactly what you need. Example: 
       Did my tone in this piece come across as somber or pretentious? 
       Did I provide enough evidence to support my thesis? 
       Does this character stay consistent throughout, or do you think her personality starts to shift too much on page two? 

3. Order your tasks, and do your first revision. 
       Now that you have things you need to work on from two people, order your tasks from biggest to smallest. Meaning, if the biggest problem in your piece is an inconsistent message (the problem shows up most often, it creates the largest eye-sore in your piece), that is the problem you should tackle first. 
       Let's say you had four things you needed to fix: your conclusion was too long and vague, your main character had inconsistent motives, all of your transition sentences on page three were too forced, the internal voice vs. external voice of your secondary main character was inconsistent. The order of "biggest" to smallest, and what you should work on first, would be: the main character inconsistency, the secondary character's dialogue, the conclusion, and then the transition sentences. 

4. Look at what you have changed, and share it again. 
      Now you should read your piece. Did your edits work? Did your work improve? Give it to your friend again and ask if your second draft is better than your first. Revise again if you both agree there are more big picture issues. 

5. Read your work out loud. 
     The time has come to move onto smaller issues such as awkwardly worded sentences, redundant words, or unnecessary sentences. Read your work out loud. Does your piece sound natural? If you read it out loud and it doesn't sound natural, you'll know you have found a problem like awkward wording or order. Edit the problems you find. Keep reading out loud and editing until it sounds completely natural when spoken. 

6. Grammar. 
      Finally, we reach the smallest issue: grammar. Look at your piece for red and green squiggly lines. Find those typos and missing commas. One strategy to find typos is to turn your paper upside down and start polishing it. You have to focus more to read upside down, which makes you spot more mistakes. 
      Send it to your friend again and ask them to point out typos and grammar mistakes. 

[Creative Commons Lisence: StanJourdan, non-commerical, https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanjourdan/​]

Jul 27
admin's picture

HELP -- The Concept

Concept and Details

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” 
 Rudyard KiplingThe Collected Works


This program is a complement to your curriculum, tools to encourage your students to practice writing and digital media, explore their communities and tell stories. Why is this important? 

  • Storytelling is the root of good writing and all writing, regardless of genre, benefits from narrative approaches.
  • Students’ interest and proficiency in writing declines as they progress through the grades.
  • YWP’s experience shows there is a correlation between storytelling, interest and performance, particularly if students can explore their own ideas.

YWP embraces the importance of mastering the fundamentals of writing – grammar, usage, punctuation, form, structure, point of view etc. YWP also understands the rigors of today’s school curricula and expectations. However, YWP believes in developing strategies that deepen youths’ interest in writing and increase their interaction with peers will increase their engagement, proficiency and confidence.
This program is aimed at helping you, the teacher, bring a little storytelling back into the classroom by providing digital and content support. We provide you:


  • An easy-to-use digital classroom website of your own where your students can privately share work and give each other comments.  
  • Content: challenges (exercises) and resources designed to progressively get students to explore and find stories in their community and go deeper with storytelling, research, digital media and editing. 
  • Support -- both technical and content-oriented -- from experts with Young Writers Project, a small, award-winning nonprofit based in Vermont that has, since 2006, connected with 100,000+ youths, partnered with 2,000 teachers and published best work of 17,000 youths.

The site is powerful and is designed for both student interaction, revision and your and their ease in accessing the work.

The content is flexible – and was designed that way – so you can adapt it to your own curriculum and your own style and methods. But we do know that the challenges and resources we’ve assembled will help. Your students will be able to focus on what interests them: their communities and the people, places, events and issues that shape their lives. They can hone observational skills and their ability to research, learn how to give and receive specific feedback, take pictures, capture audio, edit and polish their work and find audience. They’ll gain a sense of purpose. They'll also have a little fun. 
And our support is available for both technical aspects of using the site and in using the content to the fullest extent.

We have created a separate document on life-long skills that can be gained with use of this program: independent, informed and critical thinking, digital literacy, clear and effective communication and citizenship. You will be able to survey your own students, but past surveys -- and two independent studies -- of thousands of students using our platform and programs have shown that students work harder, improve their performance, gain confidence about and a more positive feeling about writing and develop a greater understanding and appreciation of their students. This is due, in large part, to how teachers use the platforms to foster good peer-to-peer commenting, allow students to determine content and minimize judgment (grading), particularly on early work.

DETAILS:  Writing is both discovery and a process. When youths understand and accept the process they discover more and have greater success. They must be given the time -- and opportunities -- to explore many ideas so they can select the very best and gain enthusiasm as they go deeper. Here’s how we define the process flow:

Idea >> Research >> Draft >> Feedback >> Editing >> Digital Media >> Polish >> Audience

 There are three structural concepts to this program: Challenges, Resources and Workshops.

  • Challenges are, generally, one step exercises; they could be called prompts or exercises or assignments. The intention is to get the student going, to explore ideas and/or to dive deeper in gaining skills or mastering steps. These are intended to be achievable.
  • Resources are support materials for challenges – tips, more detailed instructions, exemplars or additional web resources.
  • Workshops are a collection of challenges, in sequence, that lead to a larger finished project.

The challenges on https://mycommunity.ywpvt.org have, in most cases, already been tested in classrooms; we know they work. They have been developed by teachers, youths, YWP staff and experts. We have organized the content around "tags" that equate to each of the process steps (along with the Common Core text types), such as idea development, research, editing, etc. You can sort by tag and choose whichever challenge you'd like to move to your own digital classroom (website). We have made it easy for you to import content from mycommunity to your own site.

On your own digital classroom site you can schedule the challenge or group several of them together to create a sequential series in a workshop. (See the Basic Help page for details 
https://mycommunity.ywpvt.org/node/258 .) You can edit these challenges as you see fit and/or create your own.

YWP's bank of challenges and resources will continue to expand during the year as a variety of experts add more detailed challenges on various aspects of storytelling, writing and digital media skills building. Feel free to ask for challenges we have not covered. We also will be adding resources.
As to support, we'll set your site up as soon as you want and in early fall, we will be announcing a round of video conferences and live chats for technical aspects (September and early October) and on the content (monthly, beginning in late October). We will try to schedule two times for each video conference so as to make sure as many teachers can participate because part of the experience will be discussion and sharing of experiences.
NOTE: YWP will be offering a 2-credit Master’s credit (or it can be audited for licensure credit) course that will accompany this project. Please check with https://mycommunity.ywpvt.org for more details in late August.

Challenge > Basic Grammar: Punctuation
Jul 27
Grace's picture

Basic Grammar: Punctuation

Most people avoid learning about grammar like it's a 2:00pm test on a Friday. Yet, grammar is not only important for making your work polished and professional, but it's important in terms of comprehension as well. Here are five basic punctuation rules you should know. 

  1. The apostrophe. The common mistake people make with the apostrophe is that they use it to show that something is plural. The apostrophe should actual be used to show possession in a singular or plural situation. 


If the possession is singular, the apostrophe should be placed before the ‘s’ at the end of a word.

If the possession is plural, the apostrophe should be placed after the ‘s’ at the end of a word.   


Singular possession: The dog’s ball, ripped to shred with love, was the only toy he slept with at night.

Plural possession: The humans’ dog didn’t love them as much as he loved his ball.

      2. The colon. The common mistake with the colon is that people use it like a comma. The colon is used to extend something, or to introduce something. 


A colon is used to transition into a list, to elaborate on a point, to introduce a quotation, or to introduce a subtitle. BUT, a colon can only be used after a complete sentence (an independent clause), but what comes after doesn’t need to be a complete sentence.


    The list: My mom and I always follow the same routine when we go to Cape Cod: we take a long walk on a beach, we try and spot some whales, and then we eat fried pickles.

    Elaborate: The pencil is the best thing to write with: you can write, and you can erase.

    Quote: My father always ends his work emails with a quote: “Keep smiling.”

      3. The semicolon. So many people are miffed by this piece of punctuation they don't even know where to start when using it. Just remember, a semicolon can be used as a "super comma" or a "super period." 


The semicolon can replace a period to connect two related complete sentences (independent clauses). OR, a semicolon is used as a super comma to separate listed items that need commas within the subjects of the list.


Super period: The cat ran all around the house at a speed formerly unknown to the world; she rolled around in a pound of catnip just minutes before.

Super comma: I have friends from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Vienna, Virginia; and Lincoln, New Hampshire.

      4. The hyphen and dash. Just remember, the hyphen is the small one used to connect words, and the dash is the big one used to separate and connect phrases. 


The hyphen is used to connect words. You’ll often use a hyphen to combine nouns that create one “thing,” or to combine adjectives that describe one noun.

The dash (technically the em dash) can be used in the place of parentheses, the colon, and the comma. People usually use the dash instead of the other punctuation options to create emphasis or drama.


Hyphen: My mother-in-law, a red-headed woman, instantly started to get a sunburn in the July sun.

Dash: All of my friends — even Margot and Erika — liked their breakfast at Handy’s diner in Burlington, VT. They had all heard the food was only okay — they were very wrong.

[Creative Commons Lisence: Nate Angell, non-commercial, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ixmati/]

Jul 27
admin's picture

HELP -- The Basics

The basics to get you started.


To create a stand-alone challenge:

  • Hover over the CREATE menu item in the upper right of your site; select Add a Challenge.



  •  In Create Challenge form, give your challenge a short title; choose up to 3 genres; provide a short summary of the action you want the student to take. 


  • Click ADD MEDIA to add an audio, embed media or add image or images (use Advanced Upload to drag and drop multiple images to create a slideshow).



  • In “Body”, provide details of your challenge, including action steps, links to resources and exemplars. You can add media within the body of the challenge if you wish by clicking the small photo icon in the editing tool bar. Scroll down and Save.


  • If you choose a Date, it will automatically post the challenge in the Calendar. If you choose “Live” status, the challenge will automatically be put in the Challenges sort in the main menu.


  • If you wish to include a downloadable file with your challenge, you can upload it to the Download field for your students to download to their computers.


  • To post, students click RESPOND at the bottom of your challenge. Their content will automatically be linked and visible below the challenge or in the "Challenge responses" tab.


  • To create a challenge for a workshop: FIRST, create the workshop.  Click the “Create Challenge button” at the bottom of the saved workshop; 

  • NOTES: Make sure to give the challenge a summary; the challenge will automatically appear with the workshop; each challenge will appear in the order it was created. (To change order, change the time/date of the challenge’s creation by editing the challenge.)
    • Students should click VIEW to see the full challenge. Their content will automatically be visible below the challenge or in the "Challenge responses" tab.




  • NOTE: Be patient. Sometimes it takes a while for the Node Export view to load. 


  • Go to your site, log in, and under CREATE menu, you’ll see Import Challenge/Resource. Click that and you’ll see this: 


  • Paste or upload the file.



  • You will see a link at the top when the process is completed; click it to make sure the challenge came in correctly; edit to make changes OR to assign to a workshop you’ve created by choosing the appropriate workshop in the Workshop field.


Jul 27
Grace's picture

Grammar Resources

People are more likely to hold onto grammar rules if they learned them in a fun, easy to comprehend way. Here are some fun and creative grammar resources.


The Yuniversity 
This website is a treasure trove. It has grammar rules covering punctuation, syntax, spelling, and more. They even have essay writing resources. Plus, they post SAT words everyday with easy to comprehend definitions and examples. The Yuniversity is extremely EASY to learn from and navigate — plus, each of their posts have weird and wacky animations, pictures, or even (gasp) memes to help people understand these writing rules in a fun way. 

Khan Academy
Most people know Khan for math help, but the website has expanded over the years to help in all school subjects. Their grammar resources are extensive, and they really have a great coverage in the area of syntax and usage and style. Their videos are easy to follow, and their step-by-step visual guides help even some of the most reluctant learners. They even have a song to help you remember how to correct comma splices. 

The Oatmeal
This website has a very basic list of grammar rules, but everyone always remembers what they see. Through comics, weird and wonderful examples, and modern references, Oatmeal helps people learn the basic rules of grammar on this crazy cool website. The Oatmeal is colorful, yet their distinct and "odd" style helps everyone remember their basic grammar skills because it is so memorable, and so visual. You can even order grammar posters for your classroom. 

Perdue Owl
Perdue is a classic in the classroom. Perdue offers a range of English resources, including a huge list of grammar rules, examples, and guides for students. While this may be more academic than Yuniveristy and Oatmeal, and doesn't have any fun or wacky visuals, it's a classic, down-to-business resource. 


Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss 
In her book, Truss uses her witty voice to talk about she is concerned for the "grammatical state" of our language. She creates hysterical examples of grammar mistakes so you can CLEARLY see how people are misusing grammar. She shows you how to, and how not to, use punctuation in your writing. 

Woe Is I by Patricia T. O'Connor 
"In plain English," O'Connor covers a vast amount of grammar rules in her guide in a very clear, extremely easy to comprehend, often funny, and simple voice. Her goal with her book is to make grammar rules so easy to understand through her use of language, you'll be surprised why you were stumped in the first place. 

[Creative Commons Lisence: Kain Kalju, non-commercial, https://www.flickr.com/photos/kainkalju/]

Jul 27
admin's picture

Haiku and Tanka

Tell your community story through poetry. Try the simplicity of Japanese haiku and tanka.

Japanese author Daistez T. Suzuki on the haiku poem: “[They] get inside an object, experience the object’s life, and feel its feelings.”
The haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that developed out of group poetry.  Nearly nine hundred years ago groups of young poets gathered to write together what is called a renga, a type of collaborative poem.  By the 1400s the short sections of the poem broke from the long poem and developed into haiku.
What is haiku? Although nothing is hard and fast, a haiku poem has these qualities:

  • It contains 17 syllables in lines of five, seven, and five syllables.
  • It usually has a theme of nature
  • It sometimes includes a word or two that alludes to the seasons
  • It is written in the present tense about the present moment

What is a tanka poem?

  • The Japanese tanka is a 31-syllable poem, traditionally written in a single unbroken line.
  • A form of waka, Japanese song or verse, tanka translates as "short song," and is better known in its five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count form.

More info on haiku:
More info on tanka:
(Photo credit: Kevin Huang)

Jul 27
Grace's picture

Web Searches

So how do you improve your Google searches? To find better quality content (content from reputable sources, peer reviewed works, accurate information, etc), you need to know how to use the Google Search bar using the right search terms and format. 

  • Explicit Phrase: If you are looking for something like electoral college reform, you can make the search more precise by putting the phrase into quotes:  "electoral college reform"
  • Explicit site: Many sites and sources are, in fact, vetted and well-edited, like newspapers, television stations, magazines and other news sites as well as government research sources, universities, etc. So if you are looking for presidential election results, try focusing your search on an organization that did extensive work on the elections, say, The New York Times. So your search would be:  site:nytimes.com presidential election results (NOTE: start your search with the word 'site' followed by colon and the site url with NO space)
  • Explicit type of site: So you may want to limit your search to JUST government sites or government research sites. So if you wanted to do a search of polio studies, but wanted to see what government health sources had to say, you could set up your site this way:  site:*.gov polio  You could do the same thing with a search of academic materials or nonprofit organizations in the same way:  site:*.edu  or  site:*.org
  • Excluding words: Say you wanted to limit your search to exclude related but unwanted material. Say you wanted to look at how money was spent during the campaign but you wanted to exclude what was spent on advertising. To do this, use the "-" sign in front of the word you want to exclude. So your search might be:  campaign spending -advertising
  • Conversely, if you want to expand to use synonyms, put the "~" symbol in front of the related word or synonym

 A good source for information on Google searches is Google: http://www.google.com/insidesearch/

When looking at websites themselves, you should perform the CRAP test to make sure the information is reliable. CRAP stands for Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Point of View/Purpose. Information provided by Champlain College

  • Currency: When was this resource published?  Given your topic, will current or historical information be more useful? Maybe a mix of both to compare how things were then to how things are now?
  • Reliability: Is this information balanced? What publisher is putting out this resource? Are there references listed or a bibliography telling you how the author is supporting his/her ideas?
  • Authority: Who is this person writing this source, and why is what he/she says something you should care about?  Have they written other articles on this topic?  Are they thought of highly in their research communities?
  • Purpose/Point of View: Is this fact or opinion? Is it biased, and if it is, in what way?

Go to the Champlain Library page for more information on CRAP testing: http://www.champlain.edu/academics/library/get-help/research-how-tos/eva...

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang] 

    Jul 26
    admin's picture

    Free Images and Sound

    A bank of images and sounds is incredibly helpful when you're pulling together a digital story -- and it's even better when it's free!

    Content on the Internet has generally been created by and is owned by individuals and corporations. They own the copyrights, meaning that most creations are not free for the taking. Unfortunately, we all have gotten sloppy in how we use material gleaned from Internet searches -- it is, after all, so easy just to copy or download and incorporate into our own work. 

    However, it is good practice to attribute all work that you use that is not your own. In the case where there is a clear copyright, you can try contacting that person or corporation to explain what your intended use is of the work to see if they will grant you permission to use. Generally most creators are fine with content used for educational purposes and will generally charge for commercial use. There are many sources for "free" content and we've listed just a few sources here. Even in using "free" content, you should attribute the content to the creator or the source wherever possible. Much of the content linked here is governed by the rules of Creative Commons licensing; for more, go here: https://creativecommons.org/

    And if you see some photos that you like on the Internet, here are two sites where you can search for the creator and the copyrights:

    Check out these resources for free images and sound. Some restrictions apply.


    Search for Creative Commons and Copyright & Reusable Images

    Google Advanced Search [see: Usage Rights]
    Bing Search [see: License]

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    Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Sarah Gliech, 2016
    Jul 26
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    On Commenting (and Sprouts)

    Feedback from your peers is a critical part of the writing and editing process. 

    ​Commenting on others’ work helps you focus on what you notice about a piece of writing. With practice, you learn how to express what you notice in a way that’s well received. When you receive comments from a peer who has taken the time to read with understanding and inquiry, you’ll appreciate their thoughts and suggestions.
    Peer to peer feedback strengthens critical thinking, the ability to take criticism and to view one’s own work in a more objective way and to make good revisions.
    Robust and regular commenting also helps students build community and try harder. You and your peers will learn about and gain appreciation for one another.
    Concepts: Good commenting takes time; don’t be discouraged. Keep your focus on commenting; nudge rather than issue edicts.
    The stages:

    • Affirmation (I read it, I liked it, I wish to acknowledge it)
    • Affirmation with Observation and Question (I read it, I noticed this and I wondered about this)
    • Affirmation with Suggestion (I read it, I noticed some things and had these thoughts for improvement)
    • Affirmation with Sprout (I read it, it made me think of my own experience, opinion, viewpoint and so I SPROUT a connected story.)

    With your teacher and fellow classmates, set the rules of good commenting as a group. Here are some guidelines about commenting that have been devised by other students with whom YWP has worked:

    • Positive, supportive observations and questions about the piece just read
    • Avoid ‘throwaway’ language such as ‘amazing,’ ‘you’re such a great writer’
    • Avoid passing judgment, good or bad
    • Avoid commenting on spelling, grammar and punctuation; these ‘gotchas’ don’t add much
    • It’s the classroom’s responsibility to make sure everyone gets a comment
    • Authors need to acknowledge – respond to – comments left on their posts

    About Sprouts: This is a feature that all of YWP's platforms have. It is derived from normal storytelling behavior: Someone tells a story and that triggers the listener to think of a story that is connected in some way. Same holds true with reading; a student reads a post and it makes her/him think of a connected story, opinion, experience, argument. Sprouts are a great way to respond to a post – Wow, that made me think of another story! And it can go on from there, sprout after sprout!

    (Photo credit: Meghan Smith)

    Jul 25
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    From a YWP intern:

    Coach Cody
    Zach x2
    Christopher x2

    He broke the norm the way he would walk into a room--loud and in his own style. Unapologetically himself. While my mother went away at work to earn support for my family all my childhood, my father was right there at home. Stay at home dad. Unusual.

    Mud goes on bee stings. Tai Chi centers the body and mind together. Climb the tree until the branches start cracking. Run and roll in the grass. Go barefoot. Music cures the soul. 

    The principles of Bob Marley and the Grateful Dead sung to me through the record player and the thump of his calloused fingers on his bass. Love. Freedom. Create. 

    Showing up to important events in sweatpants and brightly colored shirts, fresh out of a gathering with an African Drum Circle. Sage and incense seeped into his gently lined face, drips of sweat gathered on his brow, still steaming from being in a sweat lodge. The life of the party. 

    My birthday presents all very essential things--rocks from the sacred mountains of California, notebooks aching to accept my writings, and a feather from a hawk of good luck. 

    As much as I appear the opposite--shy, organized, calculated, and susceptible to the influences of those around me. I am my father at the core. Though, with a better fashion sense. 

    Workshop > Challenge > My Communities
    Jul 25
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    My Communities

    From a YWP intern:

    The village of Warwick
    The town of Warwick
    My immediate family
    My mom's family
    Friends from home
    The Crew team
    Journalism staff
    Bankus hall
    Lakeview hall
    Peer Advisors
    Champlain College
    Professional Writing program
    King Street
    U.K. trip people
    College friends
    Ridgewood, NJ
    Woodstock, NY
    Topsham, VT
    Hudson Valley 
    The farms/orchards  


    Workshop > Challenge > La Fritanga
    Jul 25
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    La Fritanga

    This was a response of a 4th grader.

    It exists everywhere
    Its under your shoe and it walks next to you
    I am hispanic, how about you?
    We all breathe and speak, all the same 
    Lets be at hand and appreciate, Diversity 

    Jul 24
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    My room

    a response

    Challenge > My Life Exemplar #2
    Jul 24
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    My Life Exemplar #2

    At age six, I got my first sets of LEGO Bionicle, and quickly tore the intended toy apart; I made my own Toa and Makuta from the remnants of those poor story characters, I gave them relationships and stories and life. When I was eight, I studied Greek mythology in school and started playing online games; the former gave me something to do during lunch while the latter was a timesink, but both were fun and were less costly than Bionicles. Fast forward a few years, and that single timesink gave way to hundreds of others, while the mythological study became a miniature addiction to the works of Rick Riordrian; it gave me the idea to try writing my own book, based on my character in the aforementioned original timesink game: Devin Darkwraith. I found a few other interests while writing his story: animation, musical composition, anime, card games, and many more that have slipped into a jumbled mess of memory; but my wish to create stuck throughout that period of my life. Now, I mostly write, code, and game, but I try the other things with increasing frequency; I would have made note of the people I've come to know in that time as well, but I'm sure I couldn't keep myself to five sentences if I did (don't tell them I said that).