You’re the Expert! Q&A


We make writing fun! Join us this summer for a creative, enriching writing experience that allows children to explore their imaginations while building confidence and literacy skills.

We spoke with Colleen Doogan, who is teaching our You’re the Expert summer camp (July 15 – 19, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; ages 7-10) to find out more about why this is a great camp for young writers.

Read more and register here.

PWN: What’s the story behind this camp? Why did you want to offer “You’re the Expert?”

COLLEEN: I’ve seen too many students become unenthusiastic or unsure of what to write when asked to write stories or personal narratives. Not everyone wants to write their story or capture memories on paper, But a lot of kids want to teach others about something they are an “expert” on. It makes kids feel in charge. Smart. Like they know something others don’t. I had a boy in my class this past winter who was reluctant to write a story. I suggested he make a heart map to help him find ideas. On his heart map were the words “airplanes” and “helicopters.” When I asked him what story he had about an airplane or a helicopter, he started telling me a million facts (of which I had no idea) about both airplanes and helicopters. I immediately thought, “Why am I forcing this little guy to write a story when he clearly knows a lot about his interest and could write an expert book on it?” Boom. He started making his chapters and he was off and running! Then I thought about how an experience like this could help other young writers who are obsessed with or experts on all kinds of topics: dinosaurs, baseball, fashion, cats. So we created this camp.

PWN: What topic are you an expert on?

COLLEEN: I am expert on carpooling tweens and teenagers to all different corners of Monmouth County! I must say, though, that I have been given rules by my kids on how to do this job to perfection. I find that having cool music on is key, and turning it up very loud so no one can hear one another singing is a must. I try to be polite and not talk too much because my kids tell me, “No one cares, mom!” I am also an expert in organization and multitasking. I can picture a chapter in this book being called, “How a datebook, agenda, or calendar can save your life.”

PWN: What moment in the classroom gets you excited as an instructor?

COLLEEN: I love when kids are engaged. I love when they work together and help one another. I love when we all work together as a team and kids don’t see me as someone who has all the answers, but rather they see me as someone who wants to co-author the class with my students.

PWN: Why do you write?

COLLEEN: I write to reflect. I write to plan. I write to capture memories and record things that have happened. I write mostly about my kids, but wish I could write more about the loss of my parents and how much I miss them. I will. Someday. But for now, I will keep writing about this crazy life I am part of so I can look back and say, “Wow! You made it!”

Read more and register here.

Colleen Doogan is the Education Director & Writing Instructor for Project Write Now.