Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Writing Groups


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Writing groups in the morning. Writing groups in the evening. Writing groups all around! Last week, the teachers in my graduate course experienced their first taste of writing groups. Sitting in the room while I listened to the laughing and sharing gave me goose bumps! It's such an honor to witness first time writing group writers!

Today my students shared in their writing groups for the first time. We rehearsed using the "fishbowl" method. I used three students and gave them roles for our practice. One student was to play the role of the mean and rude commenter. The next was to gush over every syllable I wrote and finally the third was completely distracted and not paying a bit of attention. Our fishbowl got big laughs in each block! We continued on with brainstorming a list of appropriate ways to respond and then we were off! 

The groups got twenty minutes to share their writing and respond. I walked around and took anecdotal notes (and some video). Listening to their encouraging comments and helpful suggestions brought me such joy! Many groups didn't have enough time. Yes, let me repeat that! Many groups DID NOT have enough time. 

One very reluctant (or shall I say, FORMERLY reluctant) writer mumbled to himself after writing group, "I have a lot to delete and a lot to add." All he needed to write is audience. When I'd conferenced with him a couple of weeks ago, he was confident that he had nothing to say. He told me he couldn't write and couldn't think of anything. Now, after sharing what he wrote and he wants to go back and make his writing better! Audience. Makes. A difference. 

After the groups met, I asked the students for feedback...many reported receiving amazing compliments for their writing! Lots of students said that they got helpful suggestions to make their writing better! One comment said simply, "Writing group was awesome!" I noticed lots of smiles and lots of motivation to work more on their writing. These students are writers. 

14 comments:

  1. Just the other day, I wrote a very similar email to a friend and teacher. We're slugging away at nonfiction writing piece where they are writing about an animal. The group work was painful for my third graders. But the more they read, the more they talked. The more they talked....the more they understood. The more they understood, the more they talked and began bonding as a group. Now, they are in the drafting, revising, and editing stages, and they are calling their own "team meetings." Similarly, I saw/still see the strong power of a writing group.

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  2. "Audience. Makes. A difference" This is so true. Your students have discovered this early. I am so excited for you students and you. I can;t wait to read more about their writing groups in the future! And thank you for a great idea!

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  3. I agree that peer conferencing is one of the most powerful tools in the classroom. It can make such a huge difference for every writer. I love that your students didn't have enough time. I bet they are already looking forward to their next writing group.

    Jennifer

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  4. Every time you talk about writing groups, I get inspired! I love the role play idea. The enthusiasm from you and your students bubbles over in this post. :-) You're so right about the importance of audience!

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  5. Ahhh... the creation of a writing group...s! Exciting! I love your fishbowl modeling Michelle. Great for kids and adults!

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  6. Much to celebrate here, Michelle. I'm happy that the groups went so beautifully! Now on to more!

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  7. Audience is HUGE!! I love the way you had the students play roles. Perfect way to get them going. So happy your reluctant writer has found a way to his writing and so many others can reach for revision. Great ideas here for me too Michelle. Thank you!

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  8. This is the way to keep our kids invested in the writing process. Authentic audiences!

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  9. I love your line: "All he needed to write is audience." There are certainly students who will write for themselves, but many students also live by the sentiment expressed here. We are much more willing to speak and speak well (or write in this case) when we know someone is listening!

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  10. Writing groups are a great way to get ideas when you think you have nothing to say. Audience does make a difference.

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  11. Yea for you for facilitating these writing groups for your students. This is EXCELLENT!

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  12. Love viewing writing groups through your slicing window! Like others who've commented, I agree the key to writing is thinking about publishing for an audience.

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  13. Michelle, I really like the idea of the fishbowl to show how to properly comment on colleague's writing. I am running a workshop on Reflective Writing this week and hope that my writing teachers get to experience the joy of showcasing their work at the end of the day and receiving positive feedback from colleagues. Thanks for giving me another story to tell.

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  14. Hooray! Sounds awesome. I love how an audience - that extra level of authenticity - makes such a difference. So cool!

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