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Tweaking Writer’s Workshop

After about two months into the school year I am feeling more at ease with the students at school. I would ultimately like for them to see me as more than the “nice one”, because I don’t always feel nice and want to feel comfortable sharing more of myself with them. Yes, I know there are obviously worse things, but I know that I am a complex and multidimensional person who is more than just “nice”.

I am also settling into a rhythm each week of facilitating the Monday and Wednesday Writer’s Workshop (WW) groups. I have had to really backed off of any expectations surrounding this offering, and just support the wants and needs of the student coherence holders (CH). We have WW offsite and the CH’s decide where we will go each week. This week they decided on a coffee shop on the other side of town, and I am currently biting my tongue, as they see that such a long travel time means less writing time.

We have mixed ages in WW, anywhere from 7-13. Their writing support needs vary greatly, and finding a balance has been interesting and challenging. Today I decided to reintroduce the concept of a short “mini lesson” and enlisted the help of the older students. I skimmed through the first few paragraphs of Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet”, and removed any adjectives or dialogue. Then read it again as it was written, and invited the students to comment of the differences. Some of the students had already read “Hatchet” and were very confused during the first reading. It’s such a descriptive and exciting book, and to hear it reduced to just the facts was probably disappointing for some. I will probably tweak this mini lesson and do it again for the Wednesday group, then report about that. 😉

Here we are at Wednesday’s Writer’s Workshop, and all but one of today’s group decided to pass. Many of the students at school seem deeply affected by the results of the presidential election, and may need time to just be. The WW CH’s and one other Monday group student came along instead. It feels good to get away from school today and be in the world so I can see for myself that although we are in the midst of a “Trumpocalypse” life goes on and people can still smile. We are at a coffee shop within the Habitat for Humanity store, called “Julia’s, and it feels good to support a charitable organization that is working to provide homes for needy families.

I am sure I will continue to adapt WW, along with the CH’s, to meet the diverse needs of these writers and will endeavor to share how it’s going over the course of the next few months.

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