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Jul 26


Practice journalism skills by expanding on a current newspaper article about your town. Figure out what is missing from the story; interview people; and write your own -- better! -- article. On the surface, this challenge might appear longer than others, but it will be fun!

Journalists, working under tight deadlines and other constraints, might not always have the chance to interview everyone they'd like to include in the story. Read your local newspaper and you're bound to find at least one story that's missing some elements.


For this exercise:
1. In your local newspaper, find a news story about your town that interests you.

2. Read the story carefully. Has the reporter missed anything? Certain facts or points of view that you think should be included? Make a list of any holes you see.
3. C
onduct your own interviews based on the same story. Ask two friends, and your parents/guardians OR two of your teachers their opinions about the subject. What do they have to add to the story?
4. W
rite your own article using the new information you got from your interviews.

Comment on the articles of your peers. Tell them what you think of the new information they uncovered.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang, 2016]


Jul 26

Digital Summary

Use photography to learn how to isolate identifying features of your community, and how to create a photo story/summary.

There are often three communities you may find yourself in at this time in your life: your family community, your school community, and your town. You can probably identify in your mind certain traits that exemplify each of these communities. You can think it, but can you capture it in a digital summary?

1. Pick one, or all, of these communities. Take one to three pictures of each community that really summarize their essence.
What are the physical objects or places that represent the nature of the community and how close you are to it?


2. Reflect on these pictures. Are the identifying traits always positive? Look at the works of your peers, comment on their work. Did you and your peers pick the same traits for communities that you share?

Dig deeper. What trait does your town and school and family have that cannot be captured in pictures?

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Deanna Davis, 2014]

Jul 26


Do research and conduct interviews based on a cool, historical object you find in your community. The article will be a blend of history and personal experience. 

1. Find a vintage, rusting, weird, mysterious, interesting, curious, valuable -- or not so valuable -- object in one of your communities. You could look in your attic, your grandparents’ basement, your local museum or historical society, your library, or an antique or second-hand shop. You might find a rare newspaper in your library, a radio from the 1950s in your house, a sword from the Civil War in a museum.


2. Once you have found your object, do some research on it. Try to discover what company made it, who invented it, where it was made, and if there are any cool facts related to its invention and manufacturing. Does it have a connection to your community?

3. After you have learned the basic history of your object, interview the owner of it. Where did they get it from, why did they get it, does it have special meaning to them — a story? Aim your questions at uncovering the story that makes this object more than a thing on a shelf.

4. Combine your research and your interview to write an article about why this object is so special. Try to push yourself to discover why it might be important to people in your community.

Comment on the works of your peers. Did you learn something new about a historical object?

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Nathan Ballif]


Impressions Part I

We will always pass judgment on a place we are in, whether we are just passing through, or even if we live there. Humans are judgmental and opinionated creatures; we can’t help it. You probably have some strong opinions, memories, and observations about the town you live in.  Channel those judgments into a productive piece of opinionated writing that will help others understand your community.


Challenge 1: Write a letter to a newborn child in your town. What will their first impressions of your town be?

Challenge 2: Write  a letter to someone who is leaving your town forever. Now that they know it well, and have lived here, what are the things they will miss most about your town?


The key is to reflect on the surface “facts” about your town with your first piece, and then to dive in deep into the real secrets and traits of your home with the second.


Read the work of your peers. Comment on their letters. What was similar? What was different?

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Caleb Dudley, 2015]




A sense of community can be shattered by disputes between neighbors. Is there an issue in your community that has driven a wedge between people? Your work on this project COULD help solve the problem.

  • Check out this VTDigger.org news story: Police say a Newport, VT man got so frustrated over a property line dispute that he took matters into his own hands. With a chain saw. Click here for the full VTDigger story. (Note: The man pictured above was not involved in the dispute.)
  • Is there a festering issue in your town? Talk to people on both sides.
  • Write an essay that fairly represents both sides of the argument. Can you suggest a solution? This is the work of professional mediators, but you might discover -- if both parties are willing -- that you could help start a productive conversation just by showing them your essay.

 (Photo credit: Mike Polhamus/VTDigger.org, July 9, 2017)



Tell a ghost story that originated in your town. The best will receive a rapt audience.

The old buildings in your town have years and years of stories. So many people have lived and worked there ... and some of them have stayed behind to haunt the hallways, the creaky staircases, the cellar ...
Tell a ghost story that originated in your town. 
If you don't know one, ask around. Write the story on your blog -- tell it straight, just the facts, creepy and chilling.
Share your story with classmates and ask for comments. Offer to comment on their writing as well. 
The best stories will be published in YWP's digital magazine, The Voice.
(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Danilo Salgado)




This workshop honors those who came before you in your town. As a class project, you could publish the stories in one collection. 

Go exploring in a graveyard in your town. Find a gravestone that interests you -- maybe it's the name, or the deceased person's short or long lifespan, or a saying that is engraved on the stone.

With a goal of writing a short biographical sketch of the deceased:

  • 1. Write down all the details from the gravestone in your notebook. Take a photo of the gravestone and the graveyard.
  • 2. Do some research. Start by asking questions of family, friends, neighbors. Who was this person?
  • 3. Move on to other sources of information to fill out the story: a digital search; local historical society; library; town offices.
  • 4. Gather as much information as you can, including photos.
  • 5. Write a biographical sketch of 350-500 words and include photos of the gravestone, graveyard (and historic photos of the deceased if possible).
  • 6. If a class project, gather the stories in one collection. 

Check out this story about a graveyard from Fiona Ella: https://youngwritersproject.org/node/16687​

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Emily Evenson, 2014)

Frank Glazer -- An Elder Story -- audio/photo

We're hoping this audio photo story will inspire you to create your own. 

(A challenge for this resource: Elders)

This is an example of a simple audio photo story. The text is purposely not included so that you can listen to the story while looking closely at the photograph. YWP Founder Geoffrey Gevalt did this story in a relatively short span of time. First, he wrote a short essay about his uncle, Frank Glazer. He read it aloud and then did some editing. Then he decided upon the most important part, read it aloud several times and then recorded it withOUT looking at the text. That way he was able to get a more natural sounding voice.

He then added the music track -- a snippet from a 1968 recording by Frank of a piece by Eric Satie --  using the free (and wonderful) audio editing software, Audacity.  Notice that the playing gives an added depth to the piece. He adjusted the volume so the music did not overwhelm the words.

FYI, since this story was created, it has been used as a model by hundreds and hundreds of students all over. When Frank learned about that, he was tickled. This piece was created in 2010 when the subject, Frank Glazer, was still alive. A world class classical pianist, Frank died Jan. 13, 2015, just a month shy of his 100th birthday when he intended to perform six concerts in four states. Click to read a tribute: A Sonata for Frank. And, if you'd like to hear a 2012 recorded and edited conversation with Frank and Dick Gordon, the host of the then-American Public Radio show, The Story, go here: Frank Have a listen, you'll pick up some hints on how to conduct good interviews.  

Photograph, used with permission, by Phyllis Graber Jensen of Bates College

If you are thinking of doing your own story and are looking for some good sources for copyright free music to set the mood behind your audio piece, here are a few:
Jul 25
admin's picture


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 

Workshop > Audience


Brainstorm ways to share your best work.

Part of any writing/digital media project is to find an audience. Audience gives affirmation. And audience is fun. 

Depending on the project(s) your audience can be a gallery (or the school hallway), a newsletter, a website, a live performance, a digital video channel, a newspaper, a magazine ...

Who or what should your audience be? How do you get there? Who should you contact? What is it going to take to get it organized? Brainstorm and plan. 

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang, 2015)


Workshop > An Issue

An Issue

Communities have plenty of issues. This challenge urges you to pick just one and focus on it.

  • Think about ONE community of which you are part. Now think about the issues that community faces. CLICK RESPOND and list them. As quick as you can. SAVE.
  • Now look at your list. Which one has the most potential for a story? (Or, possibly, an essay or an in-depth journalistic informational piece or a plan for action.) Pick that one. CLICK EDIT and, below your list, you could do one of two things with your issue: write a narrative piece about a memory you have involving this issue; or, interview friends, family, and community members to write a short article about that issue in your community.
  • Find or write a story that is engaging, and unique — maybe even funny. Save your revised post. 
  • Comment on other responses to this challenge.

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Holly Dahlgren)

Workshop > A person

A person

Think of some memorable people in your community. Make a list and pick one to tell a story about.

Community means people. Think of the people in your community, or one of your communities, and list significant or memorable people. You could have a personal connnection to the person, or no connection (just interest).

  • Make a list of the significant people. Put a phrase beside each name to remind you of why they're significant.
  • Pick one and ask the person if you could interview them for a profile.
  • Based on the person's answers to your questions, write a short biographical story.
  • Add photos and audio -- and make it a digital story! 
  • Share your story with a classmate and ask for comments. Make revisions and share the story with your memorable person -- and make their day!

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Mitchel Baker, 2017)

Workshop > A place

A place

Tell a story about a special place or an object that represents your community to you. Make it a digital story.

Sometimes an object or a place within your community can represent community to you. Think of a place, an object, a building, a statue, whatever works for you and write a story about it and how it says "community" to you.

  • Post a drawing or a photo to accompany your story. Post mulitple illustrations as a slideshow if you can!
  • Post audio. Click ADD MEDIA>>Audio Record and follow the instructions to tell your story.
  • Share your story with a classmate or friend and ask for feedback. Revise, if necessary, and give it that last polish!

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Holly Margulies, 2017)