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Partnering to Improve the Writing Skills of High Poverty Youth

Assistant Professor of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, Yujeong Park,  used her 2015 Community Engagement Incentive Grant to provide struggling fourth and fifth graders with more effective writing skills.

Park worked closely with a local Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, after being approached by the club’s education director, Darren Thacker, who also participated in planning and implementing the project.  Writing workshops were also hosted by the Boys & Girls Club.

Yujeong Park

Yujeong Park

“With the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards, writing instruction has become a common concern among many educators and spans to the community level as well,” said Park. “Struggling writers need effective strategies and interventions that focus on the entire writing process.”

Faculty and student researchers associated with the writing project met and discussed how to implement writing strategies at the Boys & Girls Club with Thacker. The Club favored an interactive intervention approach to teaching writing strategies based on expressed written input from students.

The Boys & Girls Club selected students from high poverty backgrounds to participate in the writing process, which included steps in prewriting, drafting, revising/editing, rewriting and publishing.

“These skills are critical to learn at a young age,” said Park.

During the summer, students enrolled in education licensure coursework at UT provided tutoring to K-5 students through a partnership with the Modified Summer Institute and the Boys & Girls Club.

Park said the project’s overall and long-term goal is to “continue efforts to support the Boys & Girls Club’s academic programs and to establish an ongoing partnership with them to empower and increase the literacy achievement of students in high poverty by providing free, research-based reading and writing interventions.”