Remember to Celebrate!

Katherine Bomer spoke about the celebrating the work our young writers do when she delivered the Keynote Address at the TCRWP July Writing Institute. She made me reflect on the way I celebrate my students’ work, which I do at the end of each unit of study, at Publishing Parties. I’ve been throwing Publishing Parties since I finished teaching my first unit of study.

Sometimes I invite students from other classes to listen to the pieces my students have written (1-to-1), while other Publishing Parties are kids sitting in an author’s chair reading a piece of writing aloud to a group of schoolmates and community members. I tend to have a certain M.O. for my Publishing Parties. For instance, this is how the celebrations have tended in my classroom to look over the past few years:

  • Invite another class and read one-to-one: Personal Narrative, Personal Essay, Short Fiction, and Literary Essay
  • Students sit in an author’s chair and read to an audience: Persuasive Letters and Memoir
  • Small Group Share (i.e., one student reads to several people): Poetry
  • NOTE: I almost always invite my students’ families and other staff members from my school to each publishing party.

    However, after listening to Bomer speak and through reading the “Progress Shares” Section of Mermelstein’s Book Don’t Forget to Share: The Crucial Last Step in the Writing Workshop, I’ve come to realize that celebration shouldn’t wait until the end of a unit of study. By having young writers share about their process at the end of a Writing Workshop Session, we are celebrating the hard work they’ve done. Furthermore, I think celebrating a child’s unique process shows the child that their way of doing things is valued and respected in the classroom.

    Therefore, since I committed to more structured sharing (last May) in my classroom this-coming year, I think that process shares will provide me with one more way to help celebrate my students’ work. (NOTE: Process Shares are just ONE of the four kinds of shares you rotate through the end of your workshops. To learn more about them, check out Mermelstein’s Book!)

    C E L E letter R McElman_080417_6517_A T I o002 N Münster Created with Spell with Flickr.

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