When is the last time you saw an eighth grade student spend an hour writing, without being forced to? How about a high school senior? Getting students engaged, truly engaged, in a writing curriculum is difficult. That’s the value, that’s the uniqueness of Street Snippets.
Street Snippets is an online short story creation platform for middle and high school students. It encourages your students to write in a safe, monitored environment, exchanging stories with their peers. To encourage engagement, the platform is presented as a writing game. Students gain recognition by submitting a short story based upon a “Street Snippet”, a small fragment of a conversation heard while passing someone on the street.
The program includes monthly Recognition Certificates. At the conclusion of the school year, students who participated will receive a hard copy book of the stories that were published from their class. The books will also be available on Amazon.
There is no cost to use the Street Snippets platform. It is available for free to teachers who would like to participate in the program.
I look forward to speaking with you and reading your student’s stories.
Mark Miller, Senior Storyteller
About Street Snippets
What is a “Street Snippet”?
New Yorkers hear Street Snippets every day. Walking down the sidewalk, we hear 2 seconds of someone on the phone, or 3 seconds of a conversation from someone walking past, or a short snippet of a loud argument floating out a third floor window. That’s a Street Snippet. They can happen anywhere… short bursts of private conversations heard on the streets and subways of New York City.
As my daughter and I walk down the sidewalks, we collect snippets that we find funny or intriguing. “I don’t think the beast has gone down to Florida, yet.”, is an actual snippet we heard, and is a perfect example of why we keep our ears tuned as we go on our walks.
Each one of these overheard snippets is a short story just waiting to get out.
How to make Street Snippets part of your curriculum
In the second week of each month, starting in September, a new Street Snippet will be published on StreetSnippets.com. After the Street Snippet is posted for the month, authors have 10 days to submit a story.
The game is to write a short story from the snippet. The story must start with the snippet.. There is no limit to the length of the story. Any genre is acceptable, including stories, plays and poetry. Authors may enter multiple stories each month.
All stories are monitored after submission before they are published on the site.
The final outcome
At the conclusion of the year, all stories are printed in a hard copy book, available on Amazon. Each class will receive their own book with the stories from the year.
Every author who participates receives a free copy of their class’s book. Authors receive a free copy of the book as our way of saying “Congratulations, you are an author!” Additional copies will be provided to your school library. Families may purchase copies on Amazon for a nominal fee.
The Purpose of Street Snippets
The source of pride that comes from being an acknowledged, published author is something most children will never be able to achieve without a program dedicated to that specific outcome. Street Snippets is unique in that it will provide the ability for every child to be recognized as a writer in a public way, not just the selected few the publishing industry deems worth investing in. The ultimate vision for the Street Snippets program is to scale it to a national level, making it available to all middle schools and high schools in the United States.
When is the last time you saw an eighth grade student spend an hour writing, without being forced to? That’s the value, that’s the uniqueness of Street Snippets. For the children who have already participated in the program, we have found it is a vehicle for a personal statement, not as a mandated homework assignment they have to slog through. The yearly culmination of Street Snippets is physical, hard copy books of the stories written that year. I can’t stress enough the importance of the book publication as a source of pride and motivation for young writers.
When I talk with ELA teachers about this program, their eyes light up. It’s a very simple idea that can easily be inserted into an existing curriculum as a monthly assignment. By using conversational snippets from the streets of New York City, the kids become engaged. They recognize themselves, their friends, and their environment within the process of writing and reading their stories.
Word-of-mouth within the public educational community is what’s going to make this happen. When the project “blows up”… that’s the exciting part. When I told the principal at my son’s middle school what I was working on, her immediate reaction was, “I’ve got another 100 schools that would love to hear about this idea. We’ve been looking for something like this.”
Why am I doing this?
Every child should have access to an education. I was raised in the public school system and received the benefits of a free education. I want to make the Street Snippets platform available to every middle school and high school in the country, whether public or private. In five years, I want to see hard copy books in every student’s hands, filled with stories written by them and their peers. Accomplishing this objective will change how thousands of children perceive themselves and their worth.
I laugh when I think about it… I have written, or participated in the writing of nine technology books. My father-in-law has every one of those books displayed prominently in his house. He doesn’t have a clue as to what they are about, but it’s a point of pride that “my son-in-law is an author”.
I want that personal recognition for every single child that comes through our school systems. I want a book on every child’s shelf that has their name in it, and every school library to have a shelf dedicated to displaying the work of student authors. It will be a source of pride, not just for them, but for their family and community.
The kids who participate will recognize there is creativity, there is adventure, there is life outside the screen they carry around in their pocket everyday. Most kids, initially, will balk at the idea, but what we’ve found is that if it is a scheduled part of an ELA curriculum, the young writers will want to impress their peers as stories are submitted and appear online.
Will they moan and groan at the beginning? Of course they will, that’s an anticipated part of the process. The magic happens when they start to read each other’s stories, online and when they see their words in print in an actual published book they hold in their hands at the end of the school year.
Street Snippets is the most ambitious program I have created, not just because of the audience it targets, but for the potential of what it can do for an entire generation of school children. This is my chance to enhance the community I live in, to leave a legacy by focusing on the age group where it will have the most impact.
I encourage you to talk to your school about Street Snippets. I am looking for visionary teachers who see the benefits of adding the program to their curriculum, and then helping spread the message to their peers at other schools and districts. It is my hope that by creating a free, easily accessible platform for teachers of young writers, we can work together to build the next generation of authors.