Wabanaki Writers’ Project

Wabanaki Writers' Project

The Wabanaki Writers’ Project (WWP) was undertaken after a comparison of writing results on the Maine Educational Assessment for Native Americans and non-Native Americans for 2004-2005 and 2006-2007.  “In both years of the data, the gap between Native Americans and non-Native Americans gets larger as the students progress through the grades.  On the whole, Native American students have a greater percentage of students who ‘did not meet proficiency’ than non-Native American students.  In every cell, Native Americans had a greater percentage of students partially meeting proficiency than non-Native Americans.”

In June, 2008 we spent five days with eleven Wabanaki middle and high school students in the first annual WWP wilderness writing camp.  Student comments in sharing circles and journals have influenced our thinking.  The camp published Hear Our Words See Our Thoughts.  Maine Indian Education and a grant from the Rural Sites Network of the National Writing Project funded this joint venture in student learning and professional development.  Our project operates under the auspices of the Maine Writing Project.

At camp, we learned anew that like many other writers, Wabanaki students write best about what they know about and care about. Unlike other writers, Wabanaki students face the twin challenges of grounding in their own culture while bridging to European-American culture, plus bridging from a tradition of oral language to written language.  These challenges overlap and interact. As a result of our time together, we published,  Hear My Words; See My Thoughts: Teaching Suggestions that Encourage Wabanaki Student-Writers. This Sketchbook includes an expansive list of resources.