Writing Lessons : How to Teach a Writing Workshop
How to Teach a Writing Workshop
In a writing workshop, you impart some of your writing expertise to other people, encouraging them to write better. Often, the workshop includes a prompt for writing while at the workshop, as well as sharing some writing. Sometimes, it also include writing critique, depending on the type of workshop you prefer to teach. In order to teach a writing workshop, introduce concepts, and leave time for writing, reading, and critique.
Decide on what type of writing you want to teach.Of course, you have to choose one of the broad categories, such as fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, but you should also narrow it down.
- Maybe you can teach a specific type of poem, like a villanelle or a sonnet, or maybe you can narrow down nonfiction to a short childhood memoir.
- Choose something you are already familiar with and have some experience writing. Otherwise, you won’t be confident in what you’re teaching.
Introduce the writing type.Make sure to explain the basics, unless you know all the writers in your group are at a higher level.
- In other words, take time to go over how to start the piece, what the middle of the work should feel like/include, and how to tie it all together at the end.
- The best way to teach different styles is to give an example (or several) of the writing type. If it is a longer genre, use an excerpt.
- For instance, the best way to teach a villanelle is to teach a prime example of it, such as Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.”
- Having examples shows students how the genre is supposed to work and helps teach them what works well and what doesn’t.
Analyze the components.Explain each part of the writing type piece by piece.
- For instance, in a story, talk about plot, characters, dialogue, and so on.
- If it is a sonnet, talk about the rhyme scheme, the rhythm and meter, and metaphorical language.
- In nonfiction, discuss what makes a good essay, such as hooking the reader at the beginning, using specific details, and having a theme.
Talk about word choice.Different genres will need different language to fit their individual style.
- Talk about how word choice can affect the tone of the story or poem, and how to choose words to enhance the story rather than detract from it.
- For instance, using too many big words can distract the reader, as well as using slang not appropriate to the audience.
- If you have time, try writing an example together with all the students contributing. You can pass a paper around, with each student adding on, or just write one on the board with students shouting out contributions.
- During this time, encourage students to interact with each other. Consider setting group projects, such as giving them a piece of writing to analyze together and then present to the group. By having them work together, you’ll help them begin to get to know each other, which will help later during critique time.
Set aside writing time.Writing time should be at least 15 minutes long, but 30 minutes may be better, depending on the type of writing you are doing.
- Encourage students to free write. That is, have them write whatever comes to their heads, at least at first.
- If you are working in a particular form, divide the time between a period for free writing and a period for putting it into the form.
- Let students know that their writing doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just a draft, not a finished product.
Use a writing prompt to help get students started.Create a prompt by using one of your life experiences.
- Start by thinking of a funny or weird story that happened to you, such as the time you found out that your cat crashed into the hedgehog cage, or how you landed a job by tripping over the CEO.
- Write out the beginning of the story, changing details if you want.
- However, leave out the end. That will prompt the writers to come up with their own story.
Use a question for a writing prompt.Alternatively, come up with a bizarre question for a good writing prompt.
- For example, a question such as “What happens when you step outside to find your house is in an entirely different location?”
- Something interesting will spark the imagination of your writers. You can spend some time brainstorming to come up with an idea.
- Try thinking of questions that help your reader imagine things differently.
- For instance, you could come up with a series of questions that focus on the wrong sense for the object, such as “What does purple taste like?” or “What does classical music smell like?”
Find a prompt online.The internet has any number of prompts that will help your students get started writing.
- Choose one appropriate to the age level you are teaching, such as something silly for younger students.
Use an object as a prompt.Have students bring in objects, and set them up in front.
- Let students write on whichever one they want (leaving them all at the front of the room).
- Old photographs or postcards also make great prompts. Basically, anything that will spark an idea can be used as a prompt.
Reading and Critiquing
Provide feedback, and encourage students to do the same.Remind the students (and yourself) that this is not the time for criticizing—utilize positive feedback, as these are only first drafts.
- Tell the student what works, and help them to see the direction the work could take.
- Ask pointed questions to get them going in the right direction.
Set aside time for a formal critique.If you are adding critique time to your workshop, you should have students either bring more polished work in or turn it in ahead of time.
- Having a critique can be a great way to make sure that your students understand how their work is developing.
- Let students exchange work. Turning in work ahead of time is harder to organize, but it gives students time to read each other’s work.
- If you are reading in class, you can either exchange print materials or have the student read. You can even do a combination of both.
- If the group is too big, try dividing into smaller groups. You won’t be able to critique each student’s work, but students will be able to offer suggestions to each other.
Remind students that criticism should be constructive.Criticism should be something the writer can actually work on, rather than something vague.
- For example, good criticism could be something like “I think you overused the word ‘like’ in this piece.” rather than something vague like, “I don’t like this sentence.”
- Every criticism should be backed up with an explanation as to why, such as, “I don’t think the rhyme scheme works because the rhyme limits your word choice too much; it becomes sing-songy when you’re writing about a very serious subject.”
- Also, each person should strive to also find something positive in each piece of writing.
Leave your students with something to do moving forward.Give your students something to read, or leave them a writing prompt to take with them.
- Tell them how they can continue to develop the writing they worked on in class.
- Reinforce what you’ve learned in the class. Talk again about the form, trying to use examples from students’ writing.
- Maybe offer suggestions of how the students could get their writing published by telling them about good websites like Duotrope.
Video: 1st Grade Writing Workshop Lesson- Editing in Opinion Writing
Pose’ Star Hailie Sahar on Her MeToo Story and Fighting TransStereotypes
Erdogan the strongman
Talking about volatile subjects like politics
Barista Refuses to Serve Coffee to a Pregnant Woman
Gigi Hadids Latest Hairstyle Will Give You a Serious Confidence Boost
Your chance to meet Elizabeth Hurley
Potato Leek Soup Recipe
The Eco-Friendly Man
Slow Cooker Rosemary Lentil Stew
6 Smart Ways to Jass Up Greek Yogurt
A womans best friend agreed to be her surrogate
Chocolate Strawberry Cups
Dries Van Noten Delivers Flower Fantasy In SpringSummer 2019 Collection