Yesterday Ms Deb ( professor extraordinaire of English) and I had the best time leading writing workshops with two groups of great writers…K-2’s and 3-5’s at Herrick District Library in Holland, MI. The workshops were part of the library summer reading/writing events for kids. The theme was Every Hero has a Story. We focused the theme on super heroes. We chose books appropriate for each age group:
This choice was a hit. Some of the kids knew of this book series and of this particular title. Lots of fun talk during and following the reading. The K-2 group came to the workshop already fired up about super heroes and there was no shortage of writing ideas. They were off and running. So many wonderful drawings and stories. The sharing session was the most fun. K-2’s are rarely shy– that writing editor has yet to perch on their shoulders. They were proud writers!! Below are images of their fabulous works.
For the 3-5 group we chose an ABC book, shown here:
ABC books provide expansive room for creative thought. This book had an added delight of alliterative sentences and a couple of the kids wrote an ABC list of their super hero qualities. This book choice also proved to be perfect for motivation, imagination and productive writing. With the exception of one fabulous soon to be a 6th grade writer, the share session began a bit slowly. This was an expectation of mine. The editor is firmly perched on the shoulders of this group and they are reluctant… At first. Once the sharing “ice was broken” they delighted us with their stories. Some chose for me to read for them. Others chose a friend to read. This is so natural. No matter how their works were shared they too were proud writers. Here are their works:
What I know about teaching writing that is always confirmed through experiences such as this:
Teach the writer not the writing:
Through encouraging talk let them believe that they have everything they need to write–imagination and will. Invite them into their own worlds of thought rather than have them wondering what final product might be an expectation. When they think there is a specific product they focus on nervousness and experience writing blocks and fears. Provide a mini lesson that has a divergent quality–motivate them with your curiosity about what amazing works you know they will produce.
Begin with where the learner is:
Some of the kids came already as writers, bringing their writer’s notebooks well into progress. Others were unsure of what to do, where to start. Honor your writers by approaching each with where they are in their concepts of themselves as writers. Give space where needed. Give suggestions where welcomed.
Even the kids who were reluctant at first were motivated by the sharing session and Deb and I believe all left with beaming senses of pride. Sharing gives closure to all that hard thinking and bravery to put thoughts to paper.
Share your personal writing practices and ideas:
Talk to them as writers. Tell them what seems to work for you. Let them know that you experience the same things they do– a friend to support, a friend to listen, a motivating idea. Interject what you know about the writing process wherever you can but don’t preach it. Be interested in their individual works and talk about writing in an organic manner—as opportunities present.
Great day for writers!!!