Learning to write or becoming a better writer can be difficult for a number of children. There are some children who will sit and look at a blank page and get frustrated as the time passes by because they are not sure how to get started when writing. In Children’s Struggles with the Writing Process: Exploring Storytelling, Visual Arts, and Keyboarding to Promote Narrative Story Writing the authors, Michael W. Dunn and Susan Finley, explore ways to help children with narrative story writing. Michael Dunn is a former special education consultant teacher and also an assistant professor of special education and literacy. Susan Finley is also a professor and the founder of At Home At School (AHAS) program in Washington State. “At Home At School is an arts-based/integrated-curriculum literacy program that provided an opportunity to employ my alternative – strategy idea with elementary-aged students who found writing to be a challenge.” (Dunn & Finley, p. 33, 2010) The At Home At School program is designed to help eliminate the roadblocks that many student writers face with creating outlines, rough drafts, editing, and final copies of writing pieces. Students who participated in this workshop were given art supplies and computer software to help them visualize their stories. At Home At School started in homeless shelters and eventually was offered in school districts in Washington. The students participated in a four week program in which they learned more about writing through theater, news media activities and visual media.
Another workshop that was created was the Thirsty Thinkers in order to help the students enhance and strengthen their writing styles. It is this program that is the main focus of the program. The Thirsty Thinkers workshop also incorporates art into helping students develop as writers.
The intent of Thirsty Thinkers was to offer students an initial model of what an elaborate story looks and sounds like through oral reading of stories by teachers, to discuss the features of the story as a group, and to encourage students to develop their own individual text as a reflection of the initial story using the strategy. (Dunn & Finley, p. 36, 2010)
Also, they focus on the...