Choice in Sharing

Robert B. Parker. There is no one right way. Each of us finds a way that works for him. But there is a wrong way. The wrong way is to finish your writing day with no more words on paper than when you began. Writers write.

Every August, I think about what area in regards to teaching writing that I want to pay particular attention to. This year my focus is CHOICE.  Something that has caught my attention the past two weeks has been giving kids more say in the sharing time of writing workshop.

This has been a time when I’ve often been specific in my directions for sharing time. I’ve said things like:

  1. Share the lead of your story with the class.
  2. Will anyone who tried _______ (the topic of the minilesson) share how it went for you?
  3. Talk with your partner about a place you revised.
  4. Please share the genre you were writing today.

Although these things aren’t “bad,” they don’t leave much wiggle-room for the unexpected to bubble to the surface. Recently I’ve been using this line:

Writers, at the end of workshop we share to help each other be writers and to encourage one another. Does anyone have something they have learned about writing or that makes them excited about writing that you would like to share?

Then I wait. They wiggle. They shuffle papers. They look across the circle. And finally someone has something to share. When finished, the student says, “Does anyone else have something to share?”

I’m impressed by their words and feel fortunate I didn’t ask for something specific. The share becomes richer when they make choices about how to help and encourage one another as writers.