Throughout the past school year I had the opportunity to work on writing with students in many different schools and classrooms. It is always a fun and rewarding experience, and one that I look forward to. After a brief mini-lesson the students turn their writing switches on (see Teaching Tip #7) and get started crafting wonderful scenes and sentences. I always like to give the students the opportunity to share their creations with each other. My observations during sharing time have prompted my newest tip.
Tip # 12: Get Serious about Sharing
Oftentimes writers share their work for one of two reasons: (1) in celebration, or (2) in order to get a reaction and honest feedback for help with revising. It has been my observation that our students are well-versed and good at the former, but do not always have as much experience with the latter. (Also true, is the fact that getting our students to revise remains one of the bigger challenges.)
It is important for our students to know that writers share for different reasons, and they need opportunities to engage in purposeful sharing that is meant to help with future writing (revising) and not always sharing that is done in celebration. Students need to understand that sharing in order to get feedback is a part of the writing process that is just as valuable and important as everything else. Sharing can be done in a critique group setting (see Teaching Tip #9), or in a pair situation. Either way, our students need instruction and practice so they can improve in this area, and grow as writers.
How do we improve sharing time to make it more purposeful? Start with additional mini-lessons on what good sharing looks and sounds like. It will require attentive listening. When the author is done reading the “listener” needs to first say something positive. What did you like? Then move on to critiques and questions. (Again, see Teaching Tip #9 for more on sharing.)
How do you know if the sharing session was beneficial? The writer will use some of the feedback in his/her next round of revising. You might even consider having your students write a response explaining how the share session helped and how they used it in their revising.
I’d love to hear from you if you find Mr. Terupt’s tips helpful or if you have additional thoughts or questions. You can email me at email@example.com and visit me at robbuyea.com. Follow me on twitter @robbuyea.