“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” Vance Havner
In the past month, I’ve been writing in a 5th/6th grade classroom, holding a workshop with students in non-fiction writing, specifically personal essays and memoir. I’ve written and shared and taught and evaluated.
It’s a wonderful class of students, eager to try new ideas, welcoming me in every way. I loved every minute of the time with them! In the final session, I held a final conversation with the group, asking several questions, the answers which we recorded on a chart: What parts of the workshop did you like, what parts were most helpful, what parts were challenging, and what have you found that you do best in writing? Most were forthright in saying that writing several drafts and finding new ways to say things was difficult. They ‘loved’ their words so it was hard to find new ways to say things.
They also said they enjoyed the lessons where we worked in specific areas (new kinds of leads, looking at beginnings of sentences, etc.). However, what I believe so strongly, and what they said often was how much they loved the peer response/review times. They liked the talk about their writing, hearing compliments about what others liked, hearing ideas for revision. Although it is so often difficult to find the time, I have worked very hard through the years to allow students to read others’ work and to respond-mostly orally, but also with sticky notes. Students listen to their peers in many ways, sometimes negatively, so it makes sense to take advantage of their influence and use it in positive ways.
My beliefs that peer influence in writing and other student work is strong, and has been supported over and over during these days of the Slice of Life challenge. Working to write my best for all of you and reading your comments gives me such motivation that I wake up every morning already trying to choose the topic of the day. I have tried to read as many posts as possible-starting early, ending late-hoping that some of my words give a boost. Sharing parts of my life in writing is scary, and I have learned that too, and will remember when I want students to share to give them safety in the sharing, as the comments you have made do for me.
Thank you everyone!