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Promising Young Writers Program

Welcome to the Promising Young Writers Program!
 2018 Themed Writing Prompt

   Truth and Reconciliation

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1997), former Chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee, has proposed that the “future” of our planet depends on “forgiveness.” Writing is a powerful for tool for bringing difficult truths to light and for helping people, in response to those truths, to reconcile with others, as well as with themselves. This year, we invite you to write about, and to write for, truth and reconciliation in your life.

Possible questions that you might explore are provided below. You are not expected to respond to all (or any) of these questions:

·       What is a difficult truth that I or my community (e.g., families, friends, school groups, neighborhoods, religious communities, and ethnic communities) has had to face? What process did I/we undergo in coming to admit this difficult truth? What effects followed from my/our bring this difficult truth to light? What did I/we learn from these experiences?

·       Have I personally experienced the challenging work of forgiving myself or others? What process did I undergo to be able to forgive? What effects followed from my forgiving myself or others? What did I learn from these experiences?

·       Have I ever had a memorable experience of being forgiven by someone elseHowdid the person forgive me? Why did the person forgive me? What effects followed from my being forgiven? What did I learn from these experiences?

·       Have I or my community (e.g., families, friends, school groups, neighborhoods, religious communities, and ethnic communities) ever been healed by truth? What happened? What did I/we learn from these experiences?

·       What current situation(s) in my life call for truth and reconciliation? What can I do to support truth and reconciliation? What challenges might I encounter in attempting to do this work? How might I address these challenges? What resources might I need?

You may produce any genre, or kind, of writing (e.g., personal essay, graphic novel, news article, “This I Believe” podcast, eulogy, sermon, scientific report, letter to a politician, local petition). If you find it helpful to state your intended audience at the beginning of your entry, you are welcome to do so. Please remember that your Theme entry should be no longer than four pages (or the equivalent in another medium, such as video). In addition, the genres (kinds of work) that you submit as your Theme and Best Writing entries must be different (e.g., personal essay and scientific report). 

Reference

Tutu, D. (1997). No future without forgiveness. New York: Doubleday

Timeline:

Now until November 15: Present the prompt to your students. Encourage them to gather their thoughts and ideas and to write their first draft.

November 15-December 15: Encourage your students to edit, to revise, and to finalize their drafts.

December 15: Awards link will open to accept submissions.

          DEADLINE for All Submissions: February 1, 2018*

*Late submissions will not be accepted.

Purpose:  To stimulate and recognize student's writing talents and to emphasize the importance of writing skills among eighth-grade students.

Eligibility:  Eighth-grade students in the current academic school year are eligible to be nominated by a school committee or department. It is recommended nominees be decided upon by several teachers. Nominees must demonstrate evidence of effective writing.

Schools in the United States, Canada, Virgin Islands, and American Schools Abroad are eligible to nominate students. Nominating schools must be US accredited.

The number of nominees allowed from each school is determined by the school's average eighth-grade daily enrollment.

Use the following guide:

Under 100 students     1 nominee
100–199 students        2 nominees
200–299 students        3 nominees
300–399 students        4 nominees
400–499 students        5 nominees
500 or more student    6 nominees

Award Specifics:  Nominated students must submit two writings (best and themed). 

  1. Best Writing - one sample which the student considers her or his best work. The best writing may be in any genre or combination of genres (poetry, narrative, argument, expository). An excerpt from a larger piece of writing by the student is acceptable with a paragraph explaining the piece from which the excerpt was taken. Maximum length for the best writing is six (6) pages. The student's name and "Best" must appear in the upper left-hand corner of each page.

  2. Themed Writing - must be written based on the topic developed by the Promising Young Writers Advisory Committee. Maximum length for the theme writing is four (4) pages. The student's name and "Themed" must appear on the upper left hand corner of each page.

General Directions for Best and Themed Writing:

  • One teacher completes one entry form per student and uploads the student's papers as only one file. The maximum length for the best writing is six (6) pages; the maximum length fr the themed writing is four (4) pages.
  • The student's name and "Best" or "Themed" must appear in the upper left-hand corner of each page.
  • The page number must appear in the upper right-hand corner of each page.
  • The school's name must not appear on the paper or within the body of writing.
  • Use legible type - no smaller than 11 or 12 point.
  • Double space with one inch margins on all sides. This does not apply to poetry.
  • Research papers, term papers, and novels will not be accepted.
  • Late entries cannot be accepted.

Note to Teachers: 

This year’s theme invites eighth-grade writers to explore ways in which they and their communities (e.g., families, friends, school groups, neighborhoods, religious communities, and ethnic communities) have engaged with the challenges of truth and reconciliation. Moreover, this year’s theme encourages eighth-grade writers to attempt to effect truth and reconciliation through writing. We hope that this year’s theme will support teachers’ efforts to facilitate both eighth-grade writers’ inquiries into their values and their experiments with embodying those values in social interactions with others, particularly those interactions mediated by reading and writing. In this way, this year’s theme promotes literacy education for social action and civic responsibility.

Teachers, we invite you to incorporate the Promising Young Writers’ theme and writing prompt into your curriculum. In fact, we hope that “Truth and Reconciliation” is a topic that you will encourage all of your students to address in reading, writing, and discussion activities, as well as in community-service projects beyond the classroom. As support for your work, please consider the literature and teaching resources presented on the NCTE Web site and at the ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English) workshop to be held in conjunction with the 2017 NCTE convention in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Also, if your state has adopted the Common Core State Standards, it may be helpful to note that nominees for the Promising Young Writers program may choose to write their Theme entry in any genre, including nonfiction writing in History/Social Studies, and Science & Technical Subjects.

While we believe that the Promising Young Writers program may be seamlessly interwoven with your existing literacy curriculum, we urge you also to explicitly welcome—for both the Theme entry and the Best Writing entry—any writing that students may have created outside of your class or even your school

Judging:  Teams of teachers across the nation will judge entries using a secure judging site. Entries with top scores will be selected as superior. Writings are judged holistically on content, purpose, audience, tone, word choice, organization, development, and style.

Awards:  Results are announced in May. Students judged for superior writing are awarded a superior writing certificate and letter which are provided to the nominating teacher to present to the student. In addition, their name and school's name appear on the NCTE website. All nominated students receive a certificate and letter which are provided to the nominating teacher to present to the student.

      2017 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition

Past Winners

2016 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition

2015 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition

2014 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition

2013 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition
2012 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition
2011 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition  
2010 Students Receiving Certificates of Recognition


For additional information contact pyw@ncte.org.

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