Maybe you teach in a school where all is calm during the weeks between the end of Thanksgiving weekend and the beginning of Winter break. I do not. (If you do, will you share your secret?)
It is a busy time for most of us, both in and beyond school. All too often writing workshop gets short-changed. It’s nobody’s fault. Feeling guilty isn’t going to help. But somehow, even in the midst of altered schedules, weather delays and cancellations, and holiday event practices and performances, we need to keep our students writing.
Below are a few ideas for how we can do this during this busy time of year.
- Weave some low stakes writing days into the next few weeks of your workshop. Don’t know what low stakes writing is? Google it, and you’ll find lots of information and ideas. Here is an article from Edutopia you may find helpful. Low stakes writing does not mean you aren’t instructing or moving writers forward. It does however take some of the pressure off, and this may be a time of year to consider doing just that.
- Add more choice into your writing workshop to help writers keep their energy, motivation and focus for writing. Perhaps for the next few weeks students can choose not just their topic, but also the genre.
- Teach minilessons to support the types of writing your students may need most in the coming month. Creating greeting cards, writing notes and letters, composing thank you notes for gifts and invitations, and creating writing that can be given as gifts are a few options you and your writers might explore.
- If your workshop time is abbreviated, consider brief writing sessions where the focus is on fluency and stamina. This is a great time of year for quick writes. This article from Penny Kittle is full of terrific quick write ideas.
- Share and celebrate regularly. Brief sharing sessions and simple celebrations are great ways to keep writers motivated. Keep things simple, but keep them going. Ruth Ayres’ book Celebrating Writers has some great ideas at the beginning of chapter 5 for simple, last minute celebrations.
‘Tis the season when our heads are sometimes spinning because there is so.much. going. on. But, using some of the above strategies will help us and our students keep on writing.