How to use weekly guides for planning

What follows is a breakdown of each weekly guide, section by section.


This is a synopsis of what today is all about, the “why”.


Today’s goal

This is where you’re aiming today. Make sure each piece of your lesson plan relates to this goal.


Target exercise ideas

  • Engage students with fun! Your kids have been sitting in school all day. A good target exercise gives them the opportunity to move around and loosen up their brains and bodies.
  • Clarify today’s purpose and get buy-in.
  • Describe the desired outcome of the workshop; what does success look like for your kids? What do you want to hear your kids reflect back to you to show they understand the concept? Which race would you rather run—the race with or without a finish line? Let kids know how to “win” today.
  • Scaffold. Give kids the building blocks from low stakes to high stakes. Remember I, We, You: I model an example, we do one together, you try it on your own.


Reading ideas

  • Respond to your kids’ interests/their lives and try to incorporate relevant texts. What are your kids interested in? What do you hear them talking about before workshop starts/on the way home? What’s happening in their lives? What forms do they gravitate toward?
  • Bring in multiple genres to show kids variety. We strive for at least two readings each workshop. (Sometimes with tougher readings it’s okay to just go deep into just one. Respond to your group’s needs.)
  • Plan at least three text-based questions to get your discussion started and illuminate today’s goal. Start broad, then zoom in. Ask the kids to defend their answers by pointing back to the text. (“Why? What line told you that? How do you know?”)


Writing prompt ideas

  • Mirror your reading examples. What might’ve prompted the author to write this piece? This will make your workshop feel seamless and help the kids connect the dots.
  • Plan plenty of sub-prompts. What will get them to push deeper?
  • Test your prompt on yourself. Does it get you going? Would you want to write about this? If the answer is no, it’s likely it won’t be fun for your kids either!
  • It’s always okay to fictionalize. “Write about/imagine a time…” are interchangeable phrases. There is power in rewriting the script. We encourage all genres, and we want kids to push outside their comfort zone.


Sharing/performance ideas

  • Make this supportive. How will your group show appreciation? Snaps, nods, claps?
  • Model powerful reading yourself to show kids how to succeed.
  • Make a least one share mandatory during weeks 1, 2, or 3, but be sure to let them know in advance. They can choose just one line to share if they’re uncomfortable. An “all share” shows that everyone is taking an equal risk to get vulnerable and real together. This includes you, writing fellows! Prep writing outside of workshop time, and share with your kids.
  • Allow space for all voices. Not everyone will get to share each time, but be fair. If you have lots of enthusiastic sharers, drawing from a lottery can work well.