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Writing Partners @ Sac State

Writing Partners @ Sac State (WP) began in the Summer of 2005 in conjunction with the Community Engagement Center to provide a service learning experience that offers Sac State students an opportunity to teach and learn through a letter exchange with students from elementary schools in the Sacramento region. Former English Department faculty member Dr. Catherine Gabor, a co-creator of the original Writing Partners Program, piloted WP with one of her classes and the CEC has since been involved by facilitating partnerships between Sac State faculty and elementary school teachers. For the past ten years, faculty across campus, e.g. Nursing, Teacher Education, EOP, First Year Experience (FYE) Seminars, and Composition, have incorporated this pedagogical tool into their courses.

Many FYE faculty have included WP because it works well with the overall curriculum that focuses on “becoming an educated person.” WP is a great introduction to service learning for college students because it introduces them to working in the community and participating in a reciprocal activity, e.g. a letter exchange, that results in enhancing the literacy skills of both college and elementary school students.

Goals and Learning Outcomes

The overall goals of Writing Partners @ Sac State include:

  • building and/or strengthening literacy
  • enhancing knowledge of writing through a letter exchange with a real audience
  • connecting Sacramento State students with K-12 students in the Sacramento region
  • using the letter exchange to help Sac State students articulate and reinforce their identities as ‘college students’
  • building relationships through literacy
  • encouraging elementary school students to begin to prepare for college and see themselves as college eligible

By the end of the semester, Sacramento State students will demonstrate:

  • the ability to compose, draft and write letters
  • the ability to analyze the audience
  • the importance of tone and “voice” as a writer
  • the ability to use various writing strategies in terms of drafting a letter (e.g., use of analogy, amplification, hyperbole, metaphor, etc.)
  • the understanding of their participation in this activity as having an impact on young people in their community

How Writing Partners Works

Writing Partners matches university students with elementary school students in a collaborative letter exchange.  Through Writing Partners, students learn that writing has the power to help them make connections across communities and connect with others within their community. 

Unlike pen pals, Writing Partners incorporates academic and social learning goals, and intentionally helps to cultivate literacy skills.  Both university and elementary school students are asked to think about more than just the basic letter format and to consider how to build relationships through writing, basic document design, and the nature of the audience.  Writing Partners enhances creative and critical thinking skills and encourages a sense of authority in students as writers and as members of the campus community.

For more information about the Writing Partners @ Sac State Program please contact:

Francine Redada, Partnership/Program Coordinator, Francine.Redada@csus.edu.

Click here to download the Writing Partners Toolkit.

Have more questions? Feel free to contact us at (916) 278-4610 or at cec@csus.edu