Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Writer's Workshop: Session 2 -- Great Leads

It is hard to gauge the success of a group that you run.  I tend to rely on my own inner critique.  If I had a good time, I tend to assume that the kids did too.  Of course my children are brutally honest and would tell me if I slipped into my “teacher voice” or if I went on a rant that was not relevant.  So far, they tell me they are enjoying the group and look forward to it every Friday.

I tend not to plan, but to work with the literary devices as they come up.  When a child needed assistance beginning her story, we launched into a mini-lesson on great leads.  This lesson was followed up by examining the leads in several popular books.  What better way to teach writing than by reading the works of a variety of authors!  

This plan had two purposes, to examine good leads and to be an ice-breaker, to get the girls talking to one another. It worked!  They took turns reading aloud the first few paragraphs and then they had discussion about what they liked/disliked and what tool the author used to create a great lead into the story.  

Ninety minutes flies by.  We begin with our discussion, spend at least an hour writing and the shares have been taking approximately 20 minutes.  The girls want to read everything they wrote during the workshop, not just their favorite paragraph.  6 children require at least 20 minutes to read their work and receive feedback.  I pose some questions to think about.  Perhaps a character needs more description or there is much action, but little emotion, etc.  Next week I will begin working with the girls one on one if they desire help with revision.    For some of these girls, writing in a group setting and sharing their work publicly is new and they are unsure about it.  I want to keep the editing and revision simple and positive so that they never ever have the "red-mark-from-the-teacher" feeling in the pit of their stomach!

Over the course of the week I will spend much time in reflection about our conversations, their questions and the directions their stories are taking so that I can figure out the best mini-lesson for the group.  

I know already that I will be sad when the 8 weeks is up.  We were debating joining a coop that meets on Fridays, but the girls said that they are enjoying this so much they hope we can extend it past the end date.  Hopefully I can sustain that level of enjoyment over the next 6 weeks!

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