Students Writing and Getting Published
As a teacher, I seek out meaningful, socially relevant publications to use in my ABE classes. How much more meaningful a magazine is when it includes pieces by other adult learners – spoken from the heart and rooted in lived experience. And even more meaningful than that: sometimes the pieces are written by my own students!
The Change Agent, a national magazine published by the New England Literacy Resource Center at World Education, includes writing by adult learners. Twice a year, The Change Agent sends out a “Call for Articles,” inviting students to submit their essays, poems, illustrations, and reflections.
I always take advantage of the “Call for Articles” because it acts as a writing prompt and it leads to a real-world process: submitting a piece of writing to be evaluated and possibly accepted for publication. Preparing to write a piece for The Change Agent is a group activity that fosters community-building among our students. When one of our own student’s articles is published, all the students seem to take pride in their fellow students’ accomplishment
Knowing someone who got published or knowing that many of your peers in adult education are being published provides a great gateway to more reading and exploring. Students might initially be attracted to the magazine because they recognize the writers, but then they hold on to the magazine and browse through the other stories. They enjoy being able to hold something in their hands that is fully accessible, engaging, and relevant to their everyday lives.
Many students in our program receive a copy of The Change Agent as if it were a textbook. (Except that it is a lot cheaper – only about a dollar per copy when you buy in bulk.) The articles are written at a variety of levels so teachers can make adjustments to their lessons to suit the right audience. A new and value-added feature is the online lessons that accompany and extend the articles. These “Extras,” along with the current issue and all the back issues of The Change Agent can be found at www.nelrc.org/change agent. To order, call 617-482-9485 or visit the web site.
Kristen McKenna is an ABE teacher at Bristol Community College in Attleboro, MA.