OHIO'S interscholastic WRITING LEAGUE for adolescents & young adults



E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall on the campus of The University of Akron has been tentatively booked as the site for the Welcome and Awards Ceremonies for The 2019 PenOhio Dual Division State Finals on Friday, April 26, 2019. The hall is one of the most spectacular assembly halls in all of Ohio. PenOhio extends gracious thanks to The University of Akron for welcoming The PenOhio State Finals home.

WHO WILL HEADLINE STATE IN 2019?


Newbery Award Winner Jack Gantos had a full house in stiches at last year's 7/8 PenOhio State Finals on the campus of The College of Wooster. Who will fill his super-sized shoes this year at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall on the Campus of The University of Akron, Friday, April 26, 2019??? Stay tuned!!!

2019 PENOHIO STATE FINALS PROMISES '"STEM-CENTRIC" EXPERIENCE FOR TOP WRITERS
ON THE BIG STAGE: EJ THOMAS!

When we talk about what the skills that young writers really need to hone that are of value in tomorrow’s world, we have to include writing that focuses on invention. For this reason, a new partnership between United Fellowship of The Pen and The EXL Experiential Learning Center at The University of Akron is being developed to deliver a new breed of State Finals to PenOhio for 2019.

Working in partnership with Directors of EXL and faculty from across a range of disciplines, PenOhio tournament planners will challenge writers in 3 rounds of narrative writing using prompts they don’t know in advance. But at this year’s event, the prompts will be “engineered” with an added twist. Each prompt will be specially designed to elicit a response that in some way relates to STEM--or STEAM--learning.

Here’s a prompt example:

Absolute Zero.

Absolute Zero is a theory. It is a state of being in matter so cold that all molecular motion ceases to exist. Scientists claim that laws of thermodynamics prevent it from ever being reached. It’s simply not possible to remove all kinetic energy where matter produces quantum effects, scientists say. But you have discovered a secret proving Absolute Zero true. Write an ice-cold tale about your discovery, and its unfathomable consequences.

There are a total of 18 writing prompts that will be unveiled at The 2019 PenOhio State Finals, canvassing a wide range of academic disciplines, and four competition divisions: Grade 7, Grade 8, Junior Varsity (Grades 9/10) and Varsity (Grades 11/12). 

Writers qualify for the 2019 PenOhio State Finals by scoring well at PenOhio Regional Tournaments, which take place in February and March 2019. Registration is open for Regionals, and will remain open through January 31, 2019. Click the Register tab for details.


Only PenOhio offers Schools a Curriculum linked to Ohio's New Writing Standards for Grades 7-12, plus Tournaments leading to Nationals!

PenOhio provides Ohio schools with a great way to inspire students to advance requisite skills in writing. We offer fantastic experiential Interscholastic Writing Tournaments, versatile instructional tools for the classroom, point-and-click online resources, and a league of networked educators who share a common philosophy about how to best teach and coach all writers, regardless of talent or ability.
PenOhio's 7-12 programs are offered in parallel with Ohio Department of Education (ODE) English Language Arts Licensure and Curriculum tracks. So wherever someone transfers 


in the State, PenOhio remains relevant. 

Teachers rave about our interactive eBook of Winners, which chronicles the best writing year-to-year, and analyzes each piece according to ODE Standards. Plus, the PenOhio eBook pairs each entry with Teaching Tips, so that members can use the eBook as a Lesson driver. 
Prior to tournaments, PenOhio offers teachers and students an 8-week online workshop written and supported by masters-level curriculum & instruction specialists.
This year, PenOhio will offer Regional and State Finals tournaments. Next year: Nationals!
Welcome to PenOhio! We're in it for the kids.


What penohio is all about

PenOhio is driven to reconceptualize ways in which teachers and learners experience writing instruction so that all school communities are afforded the opportunity to make optimum meaning and worth from time invested mastering the life skill of narrative self-expression.

That's our Mission Statement. That's what we're all about. 

We make sure we deliver our promise by helping teachers focus on Inspiring, Praising, and Rewarding young writers. Because we've learned over the years that Positivity is how young writers become great writers.

Our emphasis isn't just on tournaments. It's on teaching teachers how to inspire students with the thrill of competition, then use the fruits of competition as a teaching tool in classrooms to help all learners. All that we encourage is in lock step with what Ohio encourages of our educators and schools to do. 


WHY CAN'T MY KIDS WRITE?

"Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. And 40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to complete successfully a college-level English composition class, according to the company’s data."

That's a quote from an August 2, 2017, New York Times article by Dana Goldstein titled "Why Kids Can't Write", and it's well worth reading. 

Goldstein goes on to explain that the biggest failure is the lack of programs out there that teach teachers how to teach writing...which is exactly what PenOhio is designed to do. "The root of the problem, educators agree, is that teachers have little training in how to teach writing and are often weak or unconfident writers themselves. 

According to Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a scan of course syllabuses from 2,400 teacher preparation programs turned up little evidence that the teaching of writing was being covered in a widespread or systematic way."

Not only is PenOhio in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, we're having fun doing it.


SUPERTEACHERS: JANUARY EDITION

BUILDING YOUR BOOKSHELF:

What if some of the best books today aren't even books at all? Odd thought, hunh? It may well be true. Just ask Vi Hart.

Using little more than a Sharpie and a sheet of paper, Vi Hart breaks down topics like Fibonacci sequences, binary trees and hexaflexagons, turning doodling in math class into entertaining, thought-provoking videos. As a result, she's built an audience of over 600,000 subscribers in three years, with more than 43 million views for her YouTube videos. Go ahead and google Vi Hart, or visit her website at vihart.com. You'll see she's evolved into quite the writer and video producer on YouTube!!

The above video was recorded in September 2013 at XOXO, an arts and technology festival in Portland, Oregon celebrating independent artists using the Internet to make a living doing what they love. For more, visit http://xoxofest.com.

Compare her numbers with YouTube guru James Wedmore (who teaches you how to succeed on YouTube)... he has, um, a little over 3 million views. We're not knocking James–he's doing good work. But, keep in mind Vi Hart doesn't follow any guru advice. And she's blown way past what he's accomplished on YouTube (at least in views). Her secret is to simply produce and deliver. Vi Hart does confess that she is not beyond using her body to get clicks (she says tongue in cheek while showing a video thumbnail with a picture of her hand on keyboard).

Some favorite Vi Hart quotes (be aware of the sarcasm factor):

  • "Audiences exist to be monetized."
  • "How to win at YouTube: say Like, say Subscribe, and cross-promote."
  • “If you don’t tell people to like your stuff, how will they know they like your stuff?"
  • And finally in all seriousness she says: "I get scared when user experience comes before content"
Vi Hart focuses on producing content. There's no silver bullet. All the formulas and best practices in the world are not going to work if we don't produce content people want to see.

Fair Use doctrine provides for limited use of copyrighted materials by nonprofit educational organizations for teaching and scholarly purposes and for the promotion of creative expression. United Fellowship of The Pen gratefully acknowledges the individual copyright holders, including Vi Hart, XOXO, TED Talks, the New York Times, and others for limited use of content for the betterment of teaching and learning in Ohio schools. 

COACHING TIP OF THE MONTH


Who says a writing prompt needs to be words or a question? Why can't a writing prompt be a picture?

Every day, The New York Times publishes Picture Prompts on its Learning Network. The above Picture Prompt is titled, The Giant Machine.  Perhaps, as an instructor, you simply show the image and provide no other instruction but to give writers 40 minutes to write a narrative in response to viewing the image. Alternatively, if you click on the link, The New York Times provides a written prompt to accompany the image. 

Please see the photo credit for this work on the linked page, and respect the author of this work, Felix Decombat. It's a really neat piece of art to study. Thanks also to The New York Times for a wonderful teaching aid! Well worth a subscription!!

Helpful tool, hunh?

PENOHIO OFFERS A UNIFIED WRITING LEAGUE FOR
ALL OHIO SCHOOLS IN GRADES 7-12 VIA THREE CORE OFFERINGS


STANDARDS-BASED WORKSHOP SERIES

PenOhio teams get ready for Winter writing tournaments by attending after-school practices the preceding Fall. Most school teams build their team practice sessions around PenOhio Workshops, which we provide free to member schools online. 

All PenOhio workshops, which air on YouTube, align with Ohio's New Writing Standards. Each workshop is in mini-lesson format, and is led by an award-winning PenOhio Writing Coach. 

Each lesson features a different theme, such as Building a Story Outline, Effective Use of Concrete Imagery, How to Write Using Dialogue, and much more... Learn more


INTERSCHOLASTIC WRITING TOURNAMENTS

PenOhio Interscholastic Writing Tournaments challenge students to compete both as individual writers, and in teams of six. We offer tournament competitions by grade level division (Grade 7, Grade 8, Junior Varsity [9/10], and Varsity [11/12]). 

At each tournament, writers compose three original narrative works, each in 40 minutes, to prompts not known to them in advance. Each writer is judged in a round against up to 5 other writers from other schools, and judged by a PenOhio coach not known to the writer. The writer receives Rank and Quality Scores for each submission, plus a rich, constructive, encouraging comment regarding his/her work. 

Based on score totals for all submissions, individual and team scores reveal top finishers. Depending on scoring, writers may qualify for State Competition, publication, and/or scholarship opportunities... Learn more


EBOOK PUBLICATION OF BEST STUDENT WRITING

From PenOhio tournaments, the best writing in Ohio is identified. This writing is catalogued annually in PenOhio's eBook of Winners.

The eBook is designed with several audiences in mind. First, it is intended to serve students. Inside the current year's edition are 30 of the finest stories that were penned from over 1,000 submissions made during the past tournament season. It is a tribute to the students who wrote these stories; and intended as an inspiration to peers that great writing is well within grasp!

Second, the eBook is meant as a classroom tool for teachers, and has coupled with each story a page to help teachers use the story for instruction. This furthers PenOhio's goal of using program assets to change the way we teach writing in Ohio for the better... Learn more

  • PenOhio
    A United Fellowship of The Pen Program

    PO Box 13291 
    Akron, OH 44334

    330.806.0496
    info@penohio.org

Copyright 2017-2018, United Fellowship of The Pen and Planetc, LLC. All rights reserved.
Original designs, ideas, and curriculum copyright 2016, Planetc, LLC. All rights reserved. Patent pending.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software