Charging the Writer's Workshop Battery through Listening
" There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference
between mediocrity and accomplishment." Norman Vincent Peale
I wish I had said that. Because I live it.
Living life in the writing classroom is an enthusiastic
dance... really, a dance marathon, since the teacher constantly
supports the interest and momentum of students with a dynamic
culture that,as Katie Wood Ray writes..."hums."
SO how to avoid the dull days of February when Writer's Workshop
is no longer new. That's a challenge to teachers and students.
Here's a few entusiastic tips that have kept the dazzle in my
workshop dance, and they surround the idea of Listening, which
is the key to connection and motivation!
Take a Vakay
Take a break from writer's workshop...and substitute a study of
listening. Challenge students to bring in cd's, tapes,
published.. and their own recordings. Listen to the sounds of
the world..birds, oceans...jackhammers! Follow up the listening
with lists of connections..no writing just ideas. Make charts
that will be used when the workshop convenes again....share
stories with partners about connection made to the sounds,
record the connections in a notebook for further writing when
workshops begins again!
Listen to favorite songs...but anyone who chooses a song to play
for the class must have the lyrics to distribute. The student
leads the study of the lyrics. Students sing along then "unpack"
the lyrics! Groups may be formed to create new verses of songs!
Blinded by the Light
Break groups into 3's...have one person in the group
blindfolded. Teacher plays soundtrack themed recordings of
movies or tv shows. One person write his impressions as the
music plays, what connections is that student making? Stopping
occasionally, a recorder in the group writes connections that
the blindfolded person is making. Then compare images...does the
blindfolded person's list differ from the sighted person's
Find pieces of a few scripts the students would enjoy. In
groups, ask students to stage the scripts as short radio
programs for the whole class. When staged, the presenting group
works at the back of the room so students need to LISTEN to the
mini-play. Their backs are to the players!
After presenting a few of these LISTENING Challenges...break
out the writers notebooks...and the workshop may not just
hum...it may ROAR into a new level of motivation!