Writing Center welcomes young authors

Local elementary students get a taste of college life

By Erin Grogan | 2/2/14 7:46pm


Braden, a student at Black River Elementary in Holland, MI, shares ideas out of his notebook with his peers. The group of students brainstormed story ideas together and talked to consultants from the Writing Center about stratgies for writing short stories. GVL / Hannah Mico

The Frederik Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors at Grand Valley State University welcomed local elementary students from Black River Public School to campus on Friday to discuss the writing process and strategies.

This is the second year that the writing center has partnered with Black River to host the event. The group, which consisted of 4th and 5th graders, was able to pick the brains of Writing Center consultants and share their own story ideas.

“The students have the opportunity to learn about the writing process and why writing is important at every level of their lives,” said Jim Levering, the group’s teacher.

While there, the students also had the opportunity to question the consultants about college life. One of the requirements to graduate from Black River is to be accepted into a four-year college institution, and many of the students were curious about what to expect.

Questions ranged from how to schedule classes to what kinds of extracurricular activities are offered.

The students were also given a tour of Lake Ontario Hall where Patrick Johnson, the assistant director of the Writing Center, showed them what a typical college class will look like.

“It’s a good opportunity for young students to talk with ‘college experts’ and to see how writing can be used in their futures,” Johnson said. “We’re excited to give them that chance.”

After some of their questions about college life were answered, the classes split into small groups with writing consultants to talk about the fiction assignment they are currently in the midst of.

They discussed how to brainstorm and further develop story ideas that have already been formed. Suggestions from the Writing Center consultants included carrying a notebook everywhere and writing everything down, or carrying a device like a phone to record your voice.

“It’s hard to think of a good story idea,” Levering said. “You have to take everything you experience and filter it. Stories come from your interactions.”

During the two-hour session, consultants helped students develop their main characters and add in supporting characters. While in their “pow-wows,” they also discussed the other elements of a story including conflict, setting and plot.

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