Showing posts from April, 2018

The Architecture of The Writing Workshop

I continue to field questions concerning the structure, or architecture of the writer’s workshop. Graduate teachers, teachers from other jurisdictions, teachers returning from leave all seeking to know and understand the basics of structure around the workshop.
So, let’s revisit this critical consideration:

Component Purpose What Happens?
Connection/tuning in/ To help students make connections to previous work and to activate their prior knowledge. Talk about how this topic fits with the class’ previous learning and how it connects with the student’s as both readers and writers (Remember yesterday when we were discussing...?’)
Teaching/ Mini Lesson

Vital Conversations In the Writing Classroom

Some years back, I found myself talking to a group of enthusiastic grade one writers who were keen to commence their writing pieces. As they stood up from the carpet to return to their seats, I realized that the spark of imagination that would fire my own writing ideas, had suddenly snuffed out. The students all seemed fired up and ready to create the miracle of meaningful marks on paper. I felt completely blank and could not conjure up a single thing to write about. I was trying to will my brain into action. Writer’s block had descended upon me like a damp, foggy mist. An unexpected intrusion on my normal rich inner world of ideas.

A boy stood beside me at this critical juncture and casually announced, 'I’m going to write about the first time I went fishing on Saturday with my Dad.'
'Oh thank you,' I said with a huge sigh of relief.

The bemused child looked at me unsure as to what he had actually done.
'You have just given me a wonderful idea for my writing this morni…

Jottings From A Writing Life

The following random writing thoughts are gleaned from various sources connected to my writing life- my notebooks, blogs, Twitter, Facebook. They represent some of my recent writing related activity in these places. I share them to demonstrate the broad and enduring influences upon those of us who choose to be, teachers who write: _______________________________________
When young writers doubt their abilities they often set low goals, choose easy tasks and conduct little or no planning. When they hold strong beliefs in their own capacity to write, they generally engage more readily, focus their attention and choose to engage. This is why developing a sense of agency within student writers is so important. We must champion independence and a sense of belonging to achieve this important goal. It is central to performance.

Teachers don't just teach student learners skills. The word choices teachers make determine the health of that learning community. When teachers create safe classroo…

Helping Young Writers Find Treasure

I am a frequent gatherer of words I wish I had written. Words from fellow writers, both inspiring and thought provoking. It is important for student writers to view this type of gathering as legitimate activity for them to pursue. My notebooks regularly reflect this passion for gathering word treasure. 

When sharing my harvest of notebook entries, I frequently say things like:
'I love that line, let me tell you why.'
'Listen to the sounds of that magical sentence. Can you hear it too?'
'What great description of the setting. I can see that so clearly in my mind.'

Emotional response to the writing of others is important to acknowledge within yourself, as a reader. It is also important to share these responses with less experienced readers and writers. When we are moved or provoked, by the words on the page, the writer has done their job.

As writers, and teachers of writing, we need to develop a close relationship with those authors we admire. We need to get close to t…