Canadian Teacher Magazine -Please follow this link to read an article about Storyquest
Creative writting matters by Charlotte safieh - Jan 2014
Parkdale Villager - February 2013
Parkdale students pen and publish their own books
By Erin Hatfield
With titles like My Life with Justin Bieber, The Devastating Race and The Best Friend Book, the selection of 38 new titles in the Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School library aren’t just aimed at students; the students wrote them.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, the Grade 6 authors hosted a celebratory book launch in the foyer of their school where students received printed copies of their books in front of their families, teachers and Toronto District School Board officials.
The books came about after three months of creative writing work.
“It took a long time and it was kind of stressful,” said Turner Crockett, the author of What Happens in Cuba Stays in Cuba. But holding his book, Crockett said he was pleased with the result.
Kemo Camara penned the book A Team AKA Team Awesome, an adventure book about four boys on vacation. He said he learned a lot from the experience.
“The good thing about writing this book is that I learned to spell new words and writing became my favourite subject,” Camara said.
In 2012, Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School, on Seaforth Avenue, received $195,000 through the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, a registered charitable organization established in 2004 to help provide new books and learning materials to Canadian elementary schools. It was the largest single grant ever awarded by the foundation.
The bulk of the grant money was used to purchase books from Chapters for Parkdale’s classroom libraries, but a portion of the grant is given in cash for the school to run programs and workshops, including the Story Quest writing program.
Each book contains five chapters and in addition to each student receiving a copy of his own book, the school library will get a copy of each book for other students to check out. High Park resident Charlotte Safieh, a certified Ontario Elementary School teacher, writer and developer of the Story Quest writing program, guided the students.
“When I was a teacher, I saw how excited kids got about writing,” Safieh said.
With that in mind, she developed Story Quest, a creative writing program for schools. According to Safieh, the program helps students improve their attitude toward writing. It also creates a safe and supportive environment that allows students to develop their creativity, enables them to express themselves and cultivates independent thought.
Over the 12-week workshop, the students were given the time and support to write a story about whatever interests them or whatever they find exciting.
“At the beginning some were hesitant,” Safieh said. “But then gradually they opened up and some of them didn’t want to stop writing.”
Safieh helped the students develop their stories by asking them pointed questions about the characters and setting.
In addition to writing their books, the students also got to design the cover and choose the font inside.