Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Writers in Writing Groups

Sixth grade writing groups are here. We have been writing since the first day of school. Sharing our writing too. And now, we have formed writing groups to become better writers. I remember my first writing group. I became part of a writing group ten years ago as part of a graduate class from the Northern Virginia Writing Project. My instructor was reviewing the format of the class and when I heard writing group, my first instinct was to drop the class. I panicked! The idea of sharing my writing with other people terrified me. I didn't run. I stayed and shared. It changed me. My writing group was composed of high school teachers (at the time I taught elementary). Thinking they knew more than I did, I worried they would think I was not a good writer. Boy was I wrong! They were kind and supportive. Their feedback encouraged me and I slowly took more and more risk with my writing. Since that group, I've been part of many writing groups over the years and each one has made me a better writer. I shared that with my sixth grade writers. We talked about the fears of being in a writing group. We rehearsed giving feedback. We talked about being respectful to each other. I felt the tension ease slightly as they changed seats to sit with their new group. They sat with their new groups, introduced themselves, and shook hands. We took time to talk to each other and get to know each other. I've added this part and stressed it because the relationships in writing groups are vital to effective feedback. "What do you do when someone suggests something and you don't like it?" Isn't that a great question? Many sixth graders struggle with being confident to say no to a suggestion. We talk about how to say no thank you and how to listen without defending the writing. My favorite response to that is this, "Thank you for your suggestion. I will consider it, but I am the boss of my own writing." That gives my sixth grade writers ownership and permission to say no. It sounds funny too, so it diffuses any tense moments. Listening to the writers meet and begin revising their leads made me grateful to be surrounded with these brave and creative writers! Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

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