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Duke TIP Writing Contest


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I'm curious - does anyone find this year's Duke TIP writing contest especially challenging?


My 4th grade daughter read about the writing contest and wants to enter, but we are finding it a slow and tedious process to get through. I feel this year's topic presumes a knowledge of politics, government, and adult issues that kids in the age range are extremely unlikely to possess. The topic, for those who don't know, is to write a letter to the President as if you are a member in a chief cabinet position, identifying a problem and a solution to the problem, including citing 5 sources. I know these are gifted kids but, this one seems a little beyond the life experience of even a gifted 4th grader. (And the Duke TIP talent search does not presume profound giftedness.) I looked at last year's topic, which was "write a story about a mythical creature that lives in the present day" and I know that would have been SO much more accessible to my daughter. She could have run with it independently. I am having to hold her hand through learning about what cabinet positions are, what kinds of problems exist in the nation, how to find sources about current event problems. It's actually been a very good learning experience, but I do not feel like this is the independent 4th grade writing experience it should be.


I feel like I am helping her a LOT more than I should be for a writing contest, but I see no other way for her to do it independently. Last year's topic would have been a totally different dynamic. Everything else in the Duke TIP program this year has been my daughter's speed (book club, extras, etc.) I am basically having to walk her through the structure of how she should form her letter, using her ideas, and having her compose the actual sentences using her words, but I am having to present prompts for every other sentence. I've also basically had to look up resources for her (with me showing her how and her watching) for her to use. Is that cheating? I don't even know. I am thinking including my own disclaimer with the entry expressing my frustration with the assignment and, in the interest of transparency, describing exactly what I am doing to assist.

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