Writers in Residence

WiR teachers work with three classrooms, each for an hour a week. Sessions generally open with a discussion of a specific published work. The discussion is followed by brainstorming, writing, and sharing. In the presence of a professional writer, students often become energized about reading, and they learn to enjoy writing as a craft. As their writing skills expand, so does their self-confidence, and they begin to experiment with a variety of forms and styles. In particular, WiR teachers encourage students to write from their own experience. This approach helps students not only to discover the value of their own stories but to recognize that, as writers, they are contributing to the broader conversation that is literature.

Following the best practices set out by the Writers in the Schools Alliance, a national coalition of writers-in-the-schools programs based in Houston, our writers are selected on the basis of their knowledge of literature and creative writing, their teaching experience, and their passion for education, especially in the arts. In addition to working with classroom teachers to create projects that respond to the needs of a particular group of students, each WiR teacher produces his or her own set of lesson plans, which address various Washington State standards. The plans are left with teachers to use with future classes and to share with fellow teachers, which helps to extend the impact of the WiR program at each school.

Over the years, we have worked with many of the same schools, moving from one grade level to the next to sustain the impact of the program or targeting a certain grade level so that students can look forward to participating in a specific year. Our residency programs traditionally run for 26-weeks, but we recently began offering a 10-week program as well, in which our authors focus on a single genre: poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. We also offer a Poetry on the Go field trip to a local art museum, either as a stand-alone event or in conjunction with the 10-week program. See Options/Fees for more information.

Through our programs students learn:

      • To write concisely and make use of concrete details
      • To convey passion and emotion in their writing
      • To think logically on the page and write in the active voice
      • To engage in brainstorming as way of generating ideas
      • To write imaginatively and persuasively by using imagery, sensory description, and other rhetorical techniques
      • To identify the structural elements of a poem and the various poetic forms (haiku, sonnet, free verse, etc.)
      • To practice editing and revising
      • To pay attention to word choice and the use of dialogue
      • To be confident about presenting new ideas
      • To appreciate the rhythm of writing and the musicality of words
      • To express original ideas and share personal stories

To develop public speaking skills and build their self-confidence


There are several options for the Writers-in-Residence Program: (We can also work with you to design a program that fits the needs of your school.)In our traditional 26-week residency, we pair a writer with three classes of your choosing. The WiR teacher conducts a one-hour workshop each week with each class, guiding students in writing projects related to poetry, fiction, and/or creative nonfiction. Using the work of published authors as a launching pad for discussions, teachers introduce students to topics such as: conflict, emotional subtext, authorial intent, word choice, linking content to form, and recognizing multiple interpretations. Through these readings and discussions, students learn how to evaluate their own writing and are encouraged to take risks in the writing assignments given each week. Students end each session by sharing their writing with their fellow students. Sharing their work allows students to appreciate the many different ways an assignment can be approached and teaches them to value a variety of perspectives on the same subject. Reading their work aloud also gears students up for the community reading, where they will have the chance to share their writing with a larger audience. As part of the WiR program, students compile an anthology of their best work, which we publish and present to the students at the end of the year. A Poetry on the Go field trip is also incorporated into the 26-week program (see description below).

Sample 26-week Schedule

Activity Month
WiR teacher meets with classroom teachers to plan the year September
Residencies begin and continue through May October
Community reading for all three classes (MAC auditorium) Winter
Poetry on the Go field trip February/March
Selected students showcase their work at the Get Lit! Festival reading April
Anthologies are published and delivered to classes May
Writing program evaluations take place June
  • In our 10-week residency, a WiR teacher again works for an hour every week with each of three classes at your school. WiR teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to design a project that will give students experience with creative writing in a specific genre: poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Our teachers adopt the same instructional approach as in the 26-week residency but narrow the focus to the selected genre. At the end of the program, the WiR teacher helps to arrange a celebratory reading at your school for friends, family, and fellow students so that young writers can showcase their work.
  • (options are October to December or January to March)

Sample 10-week Schedule




Program costs are paid in part by schools and in part by sponsors and grants. The following costs are based on a three-hour per week commitment:

  • For a 26-week residency, the cost to the school is $2,500.
  • For a 10-week residency, the cost to the school is $1,000.
  • For a Poetry On the Go field trip, the cost to the school is $250.