Using Share Time to Ask for Help

A 2nd grader's spread from a book about his visit to NYC.

This week I conferred with the student (K.) who wrote the above spread. The illustrations prior to this spread were rich with setting details. I was surprised when I turned to these pages and found no setting details. During the conference, I shared this noticing with K. He quickly grabbed his colored pencils and added the rain and the sun. “It was rainy in New York and sunny in Indiana, now you can tell the difference.”

Hmmmm, not quite what I expected.

Instead of pushing him to add more, I invited him to ask the other writers in the class for help during the share session. At the end of writing workshop, I invited students to bring to the circle anything they would like to share with others. In this kind of share, students bring pieces of writing advice, things they’ve learned about writing, or questions to help them write better. The above spread ended up being a topic of conversation.

About halfway through the share, K. showed his spread to the class and said, “How else could I show the different places?”

“Can you draw a car?” one boy asked.

K. nodded.

“Then add a taxi!”

It started a slew of ideas from other students: the Statue of Liberty, tall buildings, lots of people, a fancy hotel. Then K. asked them for ideas about the Indiana page. Again the ideas piled up: a farm with a barn, cows, corn,corn,corn, tractors.

Watching these young writers work together reminded me one of the purposes of a share session is to build a community of writers within the classroom. Community ties strengthen when we help one another. I’m planning on encouraging this use of the end of workshop share more often. How about you? How do the writers in your classroom help each other?