Lesson Plan: Letters to the President

To celebrate I Want You To Know Something About Me hitting the shelves of local bookstores, we decided to share a lesson plan to help your students write letters to the president, or other political leaders.

Pick up a copy of the book today at Maple Street BookshopThe StacksOctavia BooksBlue Cypress Books, and Defend New Orleans, or buy one from our online store.

Volunteer of the Month: March 2017

Volunteer of the Month: March 2017

Congrats to Willmarine Hurst, our March Volunteer of the Month! Willmarine started volunteering with Big Class during the 2015-2016 school year, helping with in-school projects at Sylvanie Williams and Akili. This year, she's been working with 11th graders at Carver to write personal histories about the connection between a moment in their lives and a moment in history. Thanks for all your hard work, Willmarine!


What first brought you to Big Class?
For the four and a half years that I was displaced to Plano, TX post Hurricane Katrina, I worked as a substitute teacher in the Plano Independent School District (PISD). I also worked as a tutor in a tutoring club in Plano. I saw many of the students that I worked with here in New Orleans at some of the schools around the PISD. I have always enjoyed working with young people and learning from them. 

Pizza Poetry Blog Post #1: Limericks

Teachers: Want to incorporate Pizza Poetry into your classroom, but not sure where to get started? From now until April 7th, we'll be posting bi-weekly poetry writing prompts here on our blog! Remember, anyone ages 6-18 in Greater New Orleans can submit poetry to be published on a pizza box. And don't forget: the deadline to submit poetry is April 7th.


Limericks are funny humorous that are structured into five lines. The first and second lines rhyme and contain the same number of syllables, as do the third and fourth. The fifth line yields a surprise ending or humorous statement and rhymes with the first two lines. Typically, limericks are written in the past tense. They were made famous by Edward Lear, a famous poet who wrote the “Book of Nonsense” in the 1800s.

Code Your Story Mini Camp

On the occasion of the 2017 NBA All Star Game in New Orleans, Big Class, the 826 Network, and Cartoon Network collaborated on a special Mini Camp for 24 New Orleans elementary school students, focused on the intersections between coding and storytelling. Using 21st Century learning skills, students created original stories that they transformed into interactive animations using Scratch. Final animations were shared during a special presentation to the NBA community on February 16, right before All Star Weekend 2017 in New Orleans.

Welcome New Program Director!

We are thrilled to announce that longtime Big Class board member and partner teacher Kyley Pulphus has officially joined the staff as the full time Program Director!

Kyley Pulphus was born and raised in New Orleans. She received her BA in Communications from UNO, and her MFA in Film Making from Florida State. She is an award-winning children's film writer/director. Though she went off for a bit to work in children's television, she returned to New Orleans eight years ago to pursue a career in education. She spent most of that time as a classroom teacher stressing the importance of providing children with opportunities to have their voices heard. She still continues to write, and was most recently honored as a featured reader and writer in New Orleans's inaugural production of Listen To Your Mother. Her favorite writers are Maya Angelou and Mo Willems.

Volunteer of the Month: February 2017

Volunteer of the Month: February 2017

Congrats to Cynthia Via, our February Volunteer of the Month! Cynthia began volunteering with Open Studio in the 2015-2016 school year, and helped out with Big Class in Residence at Akili Academy's superhero project. Most recently, she volunteered with our letter writing workshops at ARISE Academy and Cohen College Prep after the 2016 presidential election, culminating in the book I Want You to Know Something About Me: Letters About The Election of Donald Trump by New Orleans Youth. Thanks for all your hard work, Cynthia!


What first brought you to Big Class?
I saw [Big Class] at a book fair, and being new to this city, I wanted to get back to teaching. I missed working alongside students and being part of a writing program. And what better way to learn about a community, than through stories told by kids.

Kiese Laymon visits Big Class's in-school project at G.W. Carver Collegiate Academy

We are so excited to have the brilliant essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon as the lead mentor for our personal histories book project with G. W. Carver Collegiate Academy.

Kiese spent several hours today working with students on writing with specificity, connecting with memory, and using writing as a way to slow down and understand.
Going forward he'll be working closely with students as they complete multiple drafts.

He'll also mentor the Student Editorial Board and write the forward to their book, which will be out at the beginning of summer.

We're grateful to Kiese for being such an inspiring part of this project, and approaching it with generosity, candor, and humor. If you haven't read his amazing work, we urge you to check it out at kieselaymon.com.

Big Class students share their work at Writers' Resist New Orleans

Big Class students share their work at Writers' Resist New Orleans

On Sunday, January 15th, Big Class students shared their work at Writers Resist New Orleans, an event in collaboration with with PEN America, as part of a international day of readings championing freedom of speech, and the power of expression to change the world.

Quincy (Grade 8), Alekesis (Grade 8),  and Sanii (Grade 3) shared their work from our latest book, I Want You To Know Something About Me: Letters About The Election of Donald Trump by New Orleans Youth, available now to purchase here on our web site and at your local New Orleans book store.

Volunteer of the Month: January 2017

Volunteer of the Month: January 2017

Congrats to Chris Staudinger, our January Volunteer of the Month! Chris started volunteering with Big Class two years ago on the bilingual book project, Lo Inolvidable, at Grace King High School. Since then, Chris is been a steady force in Big Class's Writers' Room at Sylvanie Williams. In the past month, Chris diligently helped students write letters in response to the 2016 election for our upcoming book. Thanks for all your hard work, Chris!

What first brought you to Big Class?
One of my friends, and then my mom, both heard about Big Class and told me I should look into volunteering since I was struggling to keep up with my writing. I liked how it was a double community of kid writers and adult writers.

In the News: Pizza Poetry project adds new events to menu/The Advocate

The Advocate
December 28, 2016

If Pizza Poetry is the voice of the children, those kids are about to get louder.
Big Class, the New Orleans nonprofit that encourages kids to write, in part by attaching their poems to pizza boxes at restaurants across the city for one day each spring, is helping to develop a New Orleans Youth Poetry Festival and working with 826 National on initiatives to get more kids writing to get those works out to a much larger crowd.

Read more: http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/news/communities/crescent_city/article_393637e2-c311-11e6-a2e7-2b40bd2701dd.html?sr_source=lift_amplify