When a Little Bit of Magic Enters Writers’ Workshop

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I witnessed magic last week, magic that my kids experienced as they shared their writing. They finished the first drafts of their narrative writing a few days earlier and were beginning to focus on identifying and revising their “heart” moment, the part of their writing that they want to slow down, add detail, share how this piece makes them feel. We decided to take a break for a few mornings to share and celebrate their progress so far. To do this I decided to use a technique I learned while participating in the Southern Maine Writer’s Project (SMWP) over the summer.

Last weekend I gave my final presentation during the SMWP workshop I had been attending since July. After my presentation, that I was very nervous to give, I experienced that same magic. This magic begins when after each presentation, classmates silently hand each other an index card with what they love about each presentation. It is very powerful, especially after exposing your inner thoughts and feelings to others who’s opinions you value. Well, it’s the same for our kids. Why wouldn’t it be? Why wouldn’t they be nervous about sharing something as intimate as their writing?

I explained this process to the kids. “Oh, we do that already,” one of them said. I explained that yes we do something similar but that this was going to be a little different. We were going to focus on celebrating each other’s writing so far. Nothing about how to make it better. Just love and encouragement from everyone in the classroom.

The colorful florescent papers were handed out as our first volunteer got up to share. She was nervous. The kids were not sure about this idea. She read. They listened. Then they wrote. Silently they each got up, walked over to her desk, and put their paper on her desk. She sat there reading each one, in her own little magical world. They watched her. She smiled. And all their hands went up to share!  After a few more sharings, writings, and smiles the best moment came. One boy who has never shared said to himself but quite outloud, “I love this, I just love this.” I asked him what he loves. “This,” was his reply. “I just love this, all of this. I want to read too.” PURE MAGIC!



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