1. TARGET EXERCISE: EXPLORE TO UNDERSTAND
LEARN BY IDENTIFYING AND DISCUSSING this week’s QUALITY OF GREAT WRITING
This part of the workshop should take 10-15 minutes. Make sure you have a plan for how you’ll know that kids understand the concept. What do you want them to say back to you to show they get it? What’s the most important point? Remember each week’s goal, and make everything relate to that important point.
- How to succeed: Get the kids up and moving, make it a game, personalize it for your group of kids, show them how to “win” today (know what you want them to understand and hear them say it back to you/put it into practice on their own)
- How to fail: Lecture for 15 minutes straight, don’t pause to let the kids in on the conversation, talk at the kids instead of with them, worry about controlling their bodies.
2. READING: READ TO APPRECIATE
READ AND DISCUSS A CLEAR EXAMPLE(S) OF THIS week’s QUALITY OF GREAT WRITING
This part of the workshop should take about 20 minutes for both reading and discussion. Have your questions planned in advance to keep the discussion brief, pointed, and engaging. The kids’ voices—not your voice— should dominate this part of the workshop.
- How to succeed: Follow the 20:80% rule (kids should do 80% of talking, you do 20%) plan your questions in advance, keep asking questions based on their responses, ask why and what if, ask them to point back to the text, offer readings from multiple genres to compare/contrast, choose readings relevant to your kids’ lives, focus on the author’s craft, give them a task to accomplish while you read aloud
- How to fail: Don’t prep questions and follow-up questions, do not engage with or build questions from their responses (e.g. “Yes, good.” then moving on.), stick to only one genre
3. WRITING TIME: WRITE TO PRACTICE
WRITE (AND IMITATE) IN ORDER TO DEVELOP THIS WEEK’S QUALITY OF GREAT WRITING
This part of the workshop is sacred and should never take less than 30 minutes. Kids need time to write, and you need to make sure to give each kid personal attention during this time. Remember: as long as an author is writing, that’s a win.
- How to succeed at this: Circulate with your partner, give multiple prompt options/sub-prompts, make your prompt relate to the reading so the kids can connect the dots on their own, be curious and ask questions, use fill-in-the-sentence starters, praise what’s working, be flexible, point back to the goal and this week’s quality of writing, encourage, allow them to dictate to get started.
- How to fail at this: Avoid kids who are struggling, scold, remain stationary, spend the entire time talking to your co-Fellow, play on your cell phone, don’t scan and assess the group.
4. SHARING: SHARE TO VALIDATE
READ WRITING OUT LOUD TO BUILD COMMUNITY AND PRACTICE PERFORMANCE
This should take about 5-10 minutes, usually at the end. Sharing our writing shows that we’re all in this together, celebrates hard work, and creates a non-judgmental space of support. This is also where we practice powerful reading to build confidence.
- How to succeed: Praise praise praise, Author’s Circle, snaps/nods, model clear, powerful performance, share your own work occasionally, acknowledge intense subjects, make space for all voices from week to week, read on behalf of shy students so they can hear the power of their words, too, monitor your time, share a little of your own work
- How to fail: Promise sharing then forget, remark on work with judgment in front of the group (Save this for a teachable moment in commenting!), play favorites, allow uninvited comments to cross the boundaries of the safe space unchecked.