Youth Voices: Bringing Students and Teachers Together to Improve Digital Skills

The New York City Writing Project at Lehman College announces the Youth Voices Inquiry Project, which will engage students and teachers from across New York City – with a particular focus on the Bronx – in using reading, writing, and digital media to explore their interests and passions. The project is made possible by $50,000 in grants from the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund of the New York Community Trust and the National Writing Project/Educator Innovator Network.

The Youth Voices Inquiry Project is a partnership of the New York City Writing Project and BronxNet, the public access cable channel headquartered at Lehman College. The NYC Writing Project comprises teachers committed to the improved teaching of literacy skills in schools throughout the diverse neighborhoods of New York City.

In the Youth Voices Inquiry Project, 30 students and 10 teachers will work as co-learners connecting personal passions with academic learning and civic engagement. They will create digital essays, stories, and poems; analyze and produce videos and podcasts; and design coding projects. Among other things, the project will serve as a laboratory to explore the relationships between interest-based and disciplinary learning.

The program will recruit from the network of teachers and schools that are currently active in NYC Writing Project programs. Lehman College will provide laptops and other technology for participants to use each day.

Program outcomes will include open curriculum projects, episodes of BronxNet’s Open 2.0, and new understandings about learner-created digital badges. Students and teachers will publish on, a public, openly networked forum allowing for peer interaction and collaboration beyond the immediate group. As with all NYC Writing Project programs, evaluation and reflection will be key components of participation. Coordinators’ plans and participants’ reflections will be available on; input from the Hive NYC and National Writing Project networks will be invited throughout the process.

“We are delighted to receive such a high level of investment and support for this connected-learning project from the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund of The New York Community Trust and the National Writing Project,” said Marcie Wolfe, director of the Institute for Literacy Studies at Lehman College, which houses the NYC Writing Project. “In addition to funding the current project, which will begin in July 2014, the New York City Writing Project has identified several extension opportunities following this summer’s work.”

The NYC Writing Project intends to build the Youth Voices Inquiry Project to reach more students and teachers across multiple locations, as well as to provide full-year academic programs to support the work done in the summer intensive experience.