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CSU Stanislaus English students join cooperative writing project with local elementary school
CSUS writing project 3
Julia Aguilar (left) and Briana Trigo (right) work on their cooperative writing task. - photo by NATALIE WINTERS/Turlock Journal

Medeiros Elementary School fifth graders joined a class of CSU Stanislaus students to engage in a writing activity that benefitted both groups of students.

The fifth graders took a walking study trip to the college on Thursday for the cooperative writing session with Brett Ashmun’s English 1006 class.

“My students were insanely excited,” said Christine Rowell, Medeiros fifth grade teacher. “I probably shouldn’t’ have told them so early in the year because they’ve been looking forward to it for almost a month.”

Brett Ashmun, CSU Stanislaus professor, shared the same enthusiasm.

“Opportunity is a lot of what it takes to be successful and one of the things I want for my students is to give them as many opportunities as possible,” said Ashmun. “It’s building opportunities and connections for them, as well as tying in relationships to the community.”

Ashmun and Rowell met at a Great Valley Writing Project young writer’s camp over the summer.

“They were two of the teachers that were able to spend some time writing with the kids and they both could see the positive impact it had,” said Carol Minner, director of the Great Valley Writing Project. “They arranged this over the summer and I’m happy to be here to be able to see it.”

The students combined to do what was called a “Duelogue” shared writing experience where the students would partner to participate in a conversation that they would write back and forth to communicate, rather than speak to each other.

“We thought, ‘What could we do to introduce my students to the college atmosphere and the environment,’ and to introduce to his students that writing is a community based endeavor that can be shared across age,” said Rowell.

The paired college and elementary students shared perspective during the activity and then acted out the final conversation verbally in front of the class.

 “I think this is great,” said Julia Aguilar, CSU Stanislaus student. “We get to interact with someone younger that has more imagination and we get to sense what they’re thinking compared to how we think, and it makes for a fun conversation.”

“It’s fun because you can’t talk to the person, you have to write instead,” said Briana Trigo, Medeiros Elementary student. “It’s different from being with students my age than with students bigger than me, but everyone is really nice.”

This is the first semester that this project has been incorporated and the foundation has been set for it happen again in the future.

“There are some things I want to do differently, but you’ve got to start somewhere and where we’ve started is wonderful,” said Ashmun. “I would like to keep the same kind of idea and be able to extend it over a period of time.”