Friday, July 15, 2011

From Texting to Text: How to Change the Way Kids View Writing and Themselves

By Kristen House, Chief Executive Muse, A Novel Idea

What would happen if kids spent half the time writing that they spend texting? Or playing video games? Or watching TV?

Those are the questions that kept me up at night, worrying about the hours of study that my college writing students had spent in front of electronic devices that stole their time during their tenure in middle and high school.

And as of this summer, I've started an experiment to discover the answers to those questions: I started teaching teenagers to write novels.

A Novel Idea engages teenagers in a way that no other interactive media device ever will. It empowers them to create people, places, and entire lives from scratch, and then translate those ideas into ink-and-paper representations that become a full-length manuscript.

Oh, and they're writing their books in a month!

Not only can they do it, they want to. They're thirsty for this kind of engagement. And the press in Nashville thinks it's pretty cool, too. Check out the article that The Tennessean just printed about A Novel Idea.

And we're not stopping there. A Novel Idea is offering a one-day novel-writing class for adults, too. And we are scheduling classes for teenagers for the fall. Those classes will stretch out the novel-writing process over nine weeks to accommodate for their busy school schedules.

Research shows that this wacky plan actually works. I'm in the process of writing a book about my adventures in novel-writing, supported by lots of science and plenty of academic studies. I'm interested in fundamentally changing the way we think about teaching research, reading, and writing in this country, and so far, my little experiment shows that the country is ready. This summer, over fifty kids will earn the new title of "novelist." I can't wait to see where the adventure will lead!

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