Small Press Publishing
with students in
NYC Alternative High Schools,
and Inclusion Programs
Will “ risk” youth and
students with disabilities, who
creatively express themselves,
develop a sense of personal
merit through desktop and
Freedom of the press is limited
to those who own one.
A. J. Lieblin
The greatest social theme of our time
is the empowerment of those
previously regarded as powerless.
literary critic, and editor of
The Avant Garde Tradition in Literature
In the 1980s, the dissemination
of the personal computer,
enabled student writers
with poor graphomotor skills
to compose legible copy,
and facilitated its storage and transport.
In 1986 Ten Penny Players began using
Commodore 128s, IBM clones, Apple IIs,
Bank Street Writer, PW, and 5” ﬂoppy disks
to bring poetry and small press publishing
to “at risk” and special education students
in NYC public schools.
Students with disabilities and those attending
alternative schools and programs -- including incarcerated youth,
many of whom had registered reading scores
below the average for their respective ages.
were encouraged to write poems
and to prepare their work
for publication in chapbooks
that were printed in small editions.
While student authors
received ten gratis copies,
the surplus (of editions of 50)
was made available
to use in their classes.
“The mish-mosh of your life becomes a story.
You’re not a troubled kid.
You’re an author by becoming one of a community.
Here is a sense of a kid embracing literacy.”
Alison Kofﬂer, poet
I like to write poetry because
I like to express my feelings
and tell the world
about different things
without giving a boring lecture.
Streams OnLine (SOL) is licensed under
the GNU General Public License (GPL)
which is an open source license.
Do students, using technology,
write at a level radically
different from their reading
skills or oral language skills?
The SOL project began
in late December 1998.
The tool was introduced
to two alternative school
programs by January 1999
for Alpha testing.
Frederick Douglass Literacy Center
was a NYC Board of Education site
in Brooklyn that served 17-21 year olds
testing below 6.0 reading levels.
is a NYC Board of Education site
on Rikers Island jail
that serves 16-21 year old
(including those with disabilities).
The literacy center reported more enjoyment
and enthusiasm to get back to SOL
than when students used a word processor.
Students prepared their own chapbooks,
when they added work to SOL.
Immediate feedback motivated the students to write
expressively in order to be published in their own
There was an increase in the production of publications
and the number of participating teachers and students.