At KidWrite Weekly Workshops, the kids come in each week and write a warm-up of some sort. The purpose of this is to get them focused on writing and our program. The warm-up can be on any topic.
After about 10 minutes, I teach a lesson. The lesson may be that we read a book and discuss one aspect of the story or that we may make up a story together. It may be that I describe something to them and then show them how to do it, too.
The children then write again, focusing on whatever it is that is the focus of the day. Students who wish to share their work then share it with the class.
I look over everyone’s work each week to see what sort of errors in grammar the children are making. We have a lesson about that topic each week, too. We older kids we address it directly.
Each session we cover the basics: How to get a Topic, how to make the topic manageable, how to write a topic sentence, how to select and include details, how to write a vivid description, and how to write something that makes sense for a reader who is following along.
Each session we also focus on one or two topics: This time it is word choice and sensory detail. The children are learning how to use the best word for the job, as well as how to describe things in a way that draws the reader in.
To accomplish this, we use fiction. With fiction, the children are free to make up any details they “need,” while learning about paragraphs, organization, punctuation, grammar, and organization.
Each child comes to the class at his/her own level. Each child then continues to work at his/her own level. They can come to more than one session because they are not doing the same work each time – we don’t use the same stories each time, and each time we are focusing on a different special topic. Also, if they come two years in a row, they will approach the work at a different level each year because the curriculum spirals with them.
This session we are going to begin stapling the prompt to each piece of work so that you can see what they are doing. What we see is the change in the kids from the first class to the last. They come in, get started, need far less help in selecting a topic, and are asking questions that are more sophisticated and based on what they have learned. They all report that they can write longer, more complicated pieces, too.
From time-to-time we use worksheets and workbooks, but my preference is to write the material on the white board while they are watching and interacting with the process. I understand this means you don’t see what has been presented, but my experience is that they absorb more if they are part of creating the material in the moment.
We also don’t give homework, although the kids are encouraged to read and to write in a journal each evening. Discussing literature is part of our program, as well as vocabulary – which we call Word Work. We pick a series or an author so that we can compare and contrast and apply Common Core principles to our discussion.
We’ve had great results with our program. One of our first students – now in high school – has been selected for a rigorous writing program and thanked us. Current kids are disappointed when it’s time to stop each week. I take that as the most positive of feedback because it indicates to me that the kids have gotten the point — that writing for school or in life is not only something they can do, but can enjoy.
As with any subject the kids tackle, the more they know, the more they want to know. In this case, the better they want to write. It quickly because a matter of them asking us how to do something they knew they struggle with.
Thank you for sharing your kids!
Please let me know if you have any questions:
– Gina Hagler