After interacting with my American Studies students through their weblogs, I began to rethink the year-long research project a little. While some students have passionate interests and are personally invested in their choice of topic, others seem no more excited than if they were choosing it off a list of research paper topics. Since the area I teach in, and the school itself, has changed so dramatically in the past ten years, I began to look at this more locally. In doing some research I stumbled across the book Writing America: Classroom Literacy and Public Engagement. With a name like that how could I go wrong? It was even better than I expected. This book describes the Keeping and Creating American Communities project that is supported by the National Writing Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities. It's an ambitious project, but one that might engage some of the students that don't seemed to be personally connected at this point. Rather than researching their connection to an outside interest or family background, they will be researching their connection and place in their community. They will also be active in analyzing the changes that have taken place and are happening. I'm hoping that the opportunity to work in groups or pairs might entice some of them as well. And the national project theme of Shifting Landscapes and Diverging Peoples seems tailor made for what our part of New Jersey is experiencing right now.
Is anyone familiar with this project and the resources we're going to need to pursue this?