Big Class is a New Orleans-based organization that facilitates student-driven creative collaborations to enrich literacy in public schools. Our projects are directed towards students experiencing literacy with its highest potential in mind – as a means of communication and expression. So far, this has resulted in published books that feature the written work of students illustrated by adults. For those involved and their audience, this has had a unique impact along a cross-section of literacy, art, community, and education.
While each project takes on a life of its own and has unique variables, they all follow a roughly similar process:
In order to illustrate the expansiveness, dynamism, and expressive and communicative potential of writing, the connection between writing and other creative processes (painting, drawing, constructing, etc.) is created through workshops and other communications with outside creative people (artists, photographers, printers, architects, etc.).
The project goal is established. The writers decide on a theme, the vehicle for their end product (most likely featuring an external collaboration), and how it will be shared with their community.
The writers engage in the classic workshop model (prewriting, drafting, revision, editing, final draft), with mini-lessons infused with the parallels to creative processes and the motivation of their end goals.
If the writers choose, their work is shared with collaborators to engage with in a different mode of creative intelligence– for instance illustration of the stories by artists.
The work is collected, designed, and published.
The work is shared with the community.
We'd like to continue to explore Big Class as an approach to writing and collaboration in schools, functioning as a reminder of what schools are there for, as well as a fresh framework for understanding and exploration. Our goal is to empower student writing and simultaneously bring people who otherwise would have nothing to do with schools to a new appreciation of them. By reflecting the creative energy of New Orleans into our schools and directing it towards literacy, we can create new possibilities for student writing. We are working to not only help students find their voices, but also their audience.
Press Street, a New Orleans-based 501c3 literary and visual arts collective, is the fiscal sponsor of Big Class, as well as a key collaborator. To find out more about Press Street, click here.
Articles about Big Class
Big Class has recently been featured in the following publications: