Thursday, March 05, 2009

Fools Rush In

So I've started Writer's Workshop. Not real happy about what I'm doing (at least not yet) but oh well, I'm going for it. :P It may get a bit messy, but hopefully nobody will end up dead or anything.

"Write Beside Them" is at this point an unattainable ideal. If I'm not up and policing the room, they're not writing. GRH. And during SSR, I have nooo problem walking around with a book in my hand, but writing while ambulatory is a skill that I have not yet mastered. Maybe if I had some kind of desk-harness, like the drummers get for marching band, I could do it.

Actually... that would be kind of cool. A wearable desk/podium. Even cooler, of course, would be a Segway with a podium up at the front of it... and a power outlet by the controls. Hm. Maybe that should be my next entry in my Writer's Notebook:

Dear Santa, I want a Ferrari and a customized Segway.

Day before yesterday I noticed that two of my students simply weren't writing. I felt my temper flare up... I mean, it just annoys me to NO END when I give clear, specific, SIMPLE instructions and they aren't followed. GOD that pisses me off.

But... I didn't chew them about about it. In fact, I didn't even say anything until the next day. See, they were reading their SSR books, and I could tell by their posture and their expressions that they were really into the story. So I didn't redirect them at the time.

I dunno. Maybe I should've. I did talk to them later and say "look, we have time for reading. And we have time for writing. I'd like you to show respect for our class and for your learning by following the directions I give you." And they seemed to be cool with that - they did spend writing time writing yesterday.


I'm tired of feeling like a n00b. It's frustrating. This is something I'm being pushed into, I'm not ready for it, and it annoys me to feel like I'm fumbling around, just kind of HOPING things work out. This is my fourth year! I should be past this stage, dammit!

But without being pushed into it, would I have incorporated a writer's workshop? I like to think so. I think I would've started out with reader workshops first, and then as I got more familiar with the workshop setting and became more comfortable working in it, I would've begun doing writing workshops as well.

And hopefully once I get this yearbook submission sent in, there'll be less all-around scrambling on that front and I can concentrate on setting up the rest of the WWs.

Image thanks to


Rachel said...

I've tried Writer's Workshop this year, and overall I'm pleased with the results. The frustrating thing I've experienced is that unless I give them a deadline, they rarely ever FINISH a piece.

I, too, have barely been able to write with them. HA I say to that. Most of them time I'm running around answering questions, both grammar-and-content-oriented. How long are your class periods?

Joel said...

It's hard to start writer's workshop in the middle of the year. Having writer's workshop from the start of the year frames the structure and expectations for the students a bit better. I'm not entirely sold on the process, but my school district wants instruction delivered in that manner. At some point, you have to balance the ideal writer's workshop and the real writer's workshop.

I think it took about 6 weeks to really establish the writer's workshop community. Some may say that's far too long and I may be inclined to agree.

Hopefully next year I'm better able to really implement writer's workshop effectively.

Also, It's near impossible to write beside your students. At this point, I don't really try.

HappyChyck said...

1. I hate it when I have to get on students for reading, but it is technically an off-task behavior, like talking, drawing, or surfing the Internet. It just feels so wrong, though.

2. I'm too much of a control freak to do a real or ideal writer's workshop, so kudos to you. I have certain benchmarks to assess, and deadlines must be assigned--and even then writing doesn't get finished. Some of them can't be left to their own devices.

3. One of my colleagues tried her hand at full-blown writer's workshop and found she didn't have time to write with them either. She needed the time for conferencing. I can see where that would be absolutely true in a secondary classroom, as students write longer pieces and have more sophisticated issues that require feedback.

4. Please write more about your workshops ups and downs so we can learn from you! :-)

Melissa B. said...

We just sent in our 5th yearbook deadline. Looks like th end is in sight, thank goodness! But as far as a Writer's Workshop is concerned, good for you! But I just don't have the time...

Just checking in...and reminding you about Sx3 today. Can you say Global Warming?

Clix said...

Rachel – We're on semester blocks, so there are four 90-minute periods per day. Classes run for a semester.

Joel – We've recently(ish) started new classes. I would've started workshop earlier, but we were stuck with an early research project.

What do you do to establish community? I get SO tired of students who just sit and twiddle pencils, stare off into space, or flip the pages of their writer's notebook… ANYTHING to avoid work.

Cupcake – I've got deadlines for their work even though it's writer's workshop. I mean, at some point, the writing has to be turned in for a grade even if it's not perfect. It's just DONE, you know? (Kind of like the Darn Book!)

I'll keep you posted. Another reason I put off doing workshop was because of the deadlines for the Darn Book. So as that winds up, I should be able to do more with workshop. Gah.

Melissa – The end is in sight, yes… I just hope I can survive to see it! We have sooo many late days that I have to make DARN SURE that we get the Darn Proofs turned around Darn Fast. And then there are the What Were You Thinking?! moments…

such as a student who goes on a field trip on the day he's asked a senior who graduated last semester to come in for a photo op. GRR.

Joel said...

Establishing a community of writers is difficult. This year I managed to stumble upon a formula that works. I suppose I'm lucky enough to teach students who are still interested in school (6th grade, though I've taught 7-12 in the past) and haven't been burnt out on writing yet.

At the start of the year, I always began class with a writing piece that I had been working on. I've since had to stop, but it really engaged my students. Secondly, I had the students work on a few joint writing activities. Another thing that helped was to explain the concept of writing territories so students had a huge list of possible things to write about.

You're always going to have students who are resistant to writing, but if you can sell the idea to them, then that's half the battle.

Also, ideal workshop and practical workshop are two different things. I lean toward practical workshop.

loonyhiker said...

Could you have them work towards a common goal like the Foxfire books or the Freedom Writers? Maybe if they a reason for writing, it would encourage them. Just a suggestions because I've never done a writer's workshop before.

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