In December, I took my seven-year-old daughter to her second Tae Kwon Do tournament. She got hooked through a school PE class, and because she was six when she started, I initially had to participate with her. I quickly realized this was not for me, but gladly supported her as she continued and appreciated the short lesson.
Even more difficult than the complex movements is competing – standing alone in front of judges and other competitors, in a room full of activity and concurrent testing, presenting what you know. For her age group, they announced first place, second place, and then – surprise – everyone else tied for third. I tend to think we over-celebrate some of our children’s successes, but I think in this case, they all deserved recognition for being brave enough to showcase their skills.
In the spirit of rewarding bravery, this year CLiF will partner with the VT and NH PBS channels to support their annual PBS Kids Writers Contest. The goal of the contest is to “promote children’s reading skills through hands-on, active learning by encouraging children in grades K-3 (K-5 in New Hampshire) to create their own original stories and illustrations.”
In a recent article about creating authentic writing experiences, educator Paul Emerich France wrote: “But what many have not realized is that literacy has lost a great deal of its authenticity by making it a decontextualized, rote chore, one with which many students comply but actually despise. I think there’s a relatively easy way to amend this through contextualized tasks that promote an authentic desire to communicate with one another—just as the printed word was originally intended… Educators forgot that literacy not only is a means for greater opportunity down the road, but also has a greater social purpose: It allows us to connect with one another, to develop empathy with the outside world, and to make sure that each of our voices are heard.”
The PBS Kids Writers Contest succeeds in creating this experience. Entries will be judged on originality, creative expression, storytelling and integration of text and illustrations plus following the basic contest rules (word count is crucial). Kids can write about any topic and in any form.
And, they are writing with not only chance of winning but also of sharing their story with classmates and other kids. In Vermont, all contestants can sign up to read their story aloud to family and friends at the Storytime celebrations. In New Hampshire, every entry will be posted on the their web site.
Every writer gets a certificate of achievement – a well-deserved acknowledgement of the hard work and bravery needed to write and share a story (or tae kwon do patterns) and of the pride that goes along with it.
January 1, 2016 – NH Contest Kickoff
January 4, 2016 – VT Contest Kickoff
March 18, 2016 – VT Contest Deadline
March 31, 2016 – NH Contest Deadline
Early April/TBD – VT and NH Judging
April 15, 2015 – Classroom Sweepstake must be postmarked by and received by April 20, 2015
May/TBD – VT and NH Award Ceremony
May and June – VT Storytimes
Image from a CLiF program led by CLiF Presenter Marek Bennett.