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UW students lead Go Big Read discussions

October 17, 2011

A group of 50 University of Wisconsin–Madison students will take on a new role Wednesday, Oct. 19, leading small groups of Middleton high school students through discussions about this year’s Go Big Read selection, “Enrique’s Journey.”

Go Big Read is a common-reading program at UW–Madison that is designed to engage students, faculty, staff and the community in a shared, academically focused reading experience. It is now in its third year.

UW students from English 100 classes will guide the discussions during the event, which is sponsored by the Greater Madison Writing Project, a collaboration of the College of Letters & Science and the School of Education that helps teachers develop and practice new strategies to help students become more effective writers and learners.

The event will be held on Oct. 19, from 9–11 a.m., at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard. Sue Robinson, assistant professor at the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, and Petra Guerra, associate director of the Department of Chican@ and Latin@ Studies, will also speak about literary journalism and perceptions of immigration in the media.

Lauren Gatti, an English 100 instructor and one of the writing project teacher-leaders who organized the event, says preparing for the discussions provided her students with an opportunity to explore the book’s themes and the tough issues it raises.

Gatti says the focus of Wednesday’s event is for students to engage with the book and with one another. “We want students to understand that the more we question and discuss with one another — about a book or a political issue or any subject — the more we learn to listen to each other. ‘Enrique’s Journey,’ by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Sonia Nazario, is not a story with a neat conclusion or easy answers.”

“Students are just beginning to realize that as you analyze a text with a group, there are no right or wrong answers,” says Pam Anderson, a Middleton High School teacher who is also a teacher-leader with the writing project. “But there are ideas, perspectives and, most likely, more questions.”

The Greater Madison Writing Project is one of 200 sites established under the National Writing Project, founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1974 by UW–Madison alumnus James Gray.