From the National Writing Project’s website (with supporting links). I’ve put two below.
If you don’t want to click through, the article is also available for download as a PDF :o)
4. Students write best about what concerns them most.
Janet Swenson, director of the Red Cedar Writing Project in Michigan, is one of the creators of Write for Your Life. The core idea of Write for Your Life is that important issues in students’ lives should be at the center of their learning. After brainstorming what these issues are, students spend time in a reading/writing workshop setting, researching and writing on their concern, be it a toxic landfill in the area of the school or the prevalence of asthma among the student population. Swenson and her colleagues believe that whatever writing students do should seek an audience beyond the classroom. For example, one student created a firsthand chronicle of her journey through anorexia. She wrote to her teacher, “I wanted to let you know that I let my doctor read my paper and he is now using it to show the other patients. I felt very proud of myself. In a small way I accomplished my goal, to help other people not go through what I have gone through.”
5. Students are motivated to write when good writing is recognized.
At the Oklahoma Writing Project, which she directs, Janis Cramer and her colleagues sponsor a writing workshop/contest for students. The event occurs in two stages. In the fall, up to 250 students of writing project teachers attend an instructional and motivational workshop. Writing project teacher-consultants give demonstrations with titles like, “I Would Love to Write If Only I had Something to Say” and “Life Sentences: A Journey into the Interior.” Then the students are on their own. They submit writing in a number of categories and they return in the spring for another workshop and announcement of the winners. As the contest is a yearly event, those who do not receive top awards one year are usually motivated to try the next year. Said one parent of her son: “This is a boy who is a good student but who never goes above and beyond what the teacher demands in class. When I asked him what he was up to, he told me `I plan to win next year’s writing contest, so I better get to work now.’” Read more.