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         Carolyn is thrilled to announce the launch of her new organization Girls With Pens, a creative writing organization for girls ages 9-17. While pop culture and peer pressure are telling tweens and teenagers to be like everyone else, Girls With Pens celebrates individual voices and offbeat imaginations.

 

Don’t just dream of a whole new world. Write one.

 

Girls With Pens offers an assortment of workshops, including:

 

Girl Empowerment and Social Politics Girls write fiction specifically designed to make them consider other points of view. The students voice their feelings, fears and concerns using their own made-up characters and conflicts. Prompts include “The Freaky Friday Challenge: write about a day where you and your mom switch bodies” and “The Elsa Diaries: how does it feel to be isolated without your friends?” The sharing of stories fosters a sense of community and respect and engages students with their authentic selves. Girls will publish their finished work on a blog.

 

Screenwriting Students deconstruct their favorite films, learning the fundamentals of three-act structure, character arcs and the hero’s journey. Starting with “Finding Nemo,” the students track the journey and lessons learned by the film’s reluctant hero, Marlin. We discuss the eight elements necessary for a good story and how they work in “Finding Nemo” and other popular films. Throughout the workshop, we will study the techniques of successful screenwriters while each student writes one short screenplay (this workshop can culminate in a performance coordinated with theater students).

 

What is metaphor? Students go through a journey of the senses to understand and create similes and metaphors. We begin by finding adjectives to describe objects brought into the classroom, such as fruit, cinnamon, chocolate, or an old boot. Different genres of music challenge them to find words to describe the emotions they feel when listening. Once the group has a list of adjectives, the class moves on to creating imagery, such as “her laugh was as warm and comforting as cinnamon” or “that dress is sadder than a Billie Holiday song.” This workshop also includes physical activity, using the body and movement to create similes. Using their new skills, students will write a piece about their names, inspired by Sandra Cisneros and her piece, “My Name” from The House on Mango Street.

 

Creative writing nurtures skills that are vital during the school year.

Writing fiction:

     • improves basic writing skills
     • fosters the enjoyment of writing
     • gives students confidence in their own voices and imaginations
     • enhances presentation and listening skills in the classroom
     • introduces the fundamentals of storytelling necessary in understanding themes and structure in literature

All Girls With Pens workshops are available as after-school programs, weekend intensives, or supplemental programs for the classroom. The workshops can be tailored to support existing curriculum and typically culminate in a reading for parents.

 

Feedback from Students:

“It was like writing in school except more creative and interesting. It helped build my writing skills while also keeping me entertained!”
                                                                                                                                                                                  -Ames Jewart (grade 8)

“I liked the sharing of our writing because I liked hearing everyone else’s crazy ideas for stories.”
                                                                                                                                                                                  -Elena Konradi (grade 5)

“English isn’t my first language, so for me it was really interesting to learn about writing tricks that apply to any language. I also learned lots of new vocabulary!”
                                                                                                                                                                                  -Alyssa Yushin (grade 7)

“My two favorite things about the class were the poetry writing and the way Carolyn used props to get our creative juices flowing.”
                                                                                                                                                                                 -Rebecca Konradi (grade 8)

Feedback from Parents:

“Writing camp was the last thing my 11 year old boy wanted to do in the middle of the summer, but in the end he admitted that he actually loved it and was sorry it was over!”
                                                                                                                                                                                 -Jennifer Newman

“My son was very resistant to writing when he began the summer writing course led by Ms. Cohagan. To be blunt, he absolutely hated writing. The activities Ms. Cohagan led the writing group through helped my son to enjoy writing, and the three week writing course turned into a genuine pleasure for him rather than a torture. My son is on the autism spectrum and has dysgraphia, but Ms. Cohagan was always willing and able to make adjustments when needed to meet his special needs. I’m very glad that my son had a chance to work with Ms. Cohagan – it gave him the opportunity to improve his outlook on the craft of writing.”
                                                                                                                                                                                 -Elizabeth Schuster

 

For more information about Girls With Pens please contact Carolyn Cohagan at carolyncohagan@mac.com