Utilizing grant to support development of historical and artifactual literacies
March 2023 – Drew University’s Drew Writing Project (DWP) and Digital Literacies Collaborative (DLC), in collaboration with the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts (METC) in Madison, New Jersey, hosted a community writing drop-in event.
The free event, funded by a grant received from the National Writing Project’s Building a More Perfect Union program, encouraged writers to explore historical artifacts and objects in new ways and reconsider voices in museums.
The DWP/DLC is a professional network that empowers teachers to become confident writers. In turn, the teachers share their practice with their students.
The museum event was organized by DWP/DLC Teacher Consultants Heather Moscat Nash G’22, Courtney Flowers, G’20,’24, Clemencia Acevedo, Deb Coen C’97, and Maureen O’Sullivan. Museum attendees were able to explore various and unique artifacts housed at METC and respond to writing prompts about them. They could also submit their writing to an online repository, which will be featured in the museum.
The writing activities will continue to be available at the museum, and anyone who writes about the artifacts can submit their writing to the repository. “Anybody, from a family with young children to adults wanting to write, can come to the museum and follow the writing prompts and see the museum in a different way,” said Moscat Nash.
The DWP/DLC Teacher Consultants were trained during a summer intensive course to develop historical and artifactual literacies in themselves and their students with a focus on engaging their students in creating their own narratives about museum objects. This process allows museum-goers to offer their own perspectives to the curated collections.
“We participate in the program to become better teachers and we bring the skills learned into our classrooms,” said Acevedo.
During the event, Acevedo’s middle school students shared their creative writing presentations prompted from a school trip to the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in New York City, showcasing the transference of knowledge from teacher to student.
The DWP, founded in 2018, is a site of the National Writing Project and has more than 100 trained Teacher Consultants in its network. The DWP provides professional development through school partnerships to approximately 200 teachers per year.