Writers’ Workshop

A quick overview and resources from writing workshop via @writingproject and my work with the Puget Sound Writing Project. I attended the PSWP in 2009 and 2015, and have taken these methods and practices to my classroom and helped others, too. After reading Why They Can’t Write by John Warner this summer, and attending a Hugo House workshop (more to follow on this), I am more convinced and determined that writing will be at the core of my ELL instruction next year. Everything I’ve done here I’ve done with adults in a learning space, and then with students, side by side.

This tweet inspired me to revise and update (and more importantly remind myself):

Protocols:

  • Determining student writing groups takes some practice and emotional intelligence (something I need to practice): anonymously ask writers what kinds of working conditions and feedback levels they wish to receive, and put like-minded personalities together as much as possible. Change as necessary. Groups should be no larger than four students.
  • Explain the procedure of feedback:
  • *First read: nothing in the listener’s hands. No feedback form, pen, etc.
  • *Second read: listen and fill out feedback form
  • *Writer’s role: after receiving the verbal and written feedback, just say “thank you.”
  • This is key: remind the writers in the room they have the agency and power to control their writing–they can accept or dismiss the feedback as they see fit. Oftentimes we feel defensive and overly self-critical of our work: the process of just saying “thank you” allows the writer to value the time the listener took while still maintaining control and agency of their work.
  • The feedback forms are located under resources. They take some time to practice with them, and usually model my own writing with a student volunteer.

Potential issues:

  • A writer may not be ready with their work. Then they don’t get to participate that day. No shame, but they can go work a piece while others are in workshop. If the writer is frequently unprepared, it’s time for a conference to help uncover obstacles.
  • Not every piece is sacred: writers determine if they will continue a piece or not.
  • Consider providing a suite of writing at the culmination of workshop: everyone contributes their favorite piece to a collection for the class

Resources:

Feedback form: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lsoFd-UVtsBrpfNY7X6CQCV9vnQWDVPI/view?usp=sharing

Writing Workshop Protocols (made by my mentor/friend, Holly: revised and updated: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1jfItyBwAwuKbmmyUn4kPVPk9Ry9EpK6jMykG-uqRa1M/edit?usp=sharing

I’ll follow up this post with the writing workshop classes from Hugo House and others soon!

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