For those of you who don't know me, I have four daughters, ages 16, 14, 12 and 10. In previous summers, I have made sure to read with them, emphasizing library and bookstore trips as important parts of their vacations. This summer, I am making more of a point to write with them. I explained the concept of Teachers Write and Writing Workshops to them and, yes, I wanted to do them every night; for the first few days, we were compulsive about it. Now, at the midpoint of the summer, we are probably averaging four nights a week. Not everyone is always here so there are different combinations of family members. Even my husband has gotten into writing vignettes from his day! He may turn into a memoir writer.
Here are some of the comments and questions that the girls had when I first explained the idea to them:
- Are you going to grade us?
- What am I supposed to write?
- I do enough writing in school.
- Do I have to share?
- What if we have something else to do?
- Do our friends have to do it when we have sleep-overs?
Ha! No, I am not going to grade you. Write what's important to you. You don't have to share and we can have flexibility...
Our family workshop has been somewhat of an experiment. I structured it with the workshop model, thinking that I'd incorporate a mini-lesson, writing time and sharing time. The mini-lesson component has slacked off and we spend time talking about what we are writing, we sometimes use a prompt, suggestion, or warm-up exercise from Teachers Write (shout-out to Megan Miranda, a guest blogger for Teachers Write who suggested adding rain to a scene!), and we sometimes just do a quick check-in before starting. One of the girls really benefits from a 2 minute chat before she writes and I do that one on one with her. Since I spend a lot of time with the girls, I have the benefit of reminding them during the day that they may have just experienced a great potential story. This has helped to minimize the age-old I-have-nothing-to-write syndrome. We write for about 30 minutes and then we reconvene to share what we've written. Sharing is optional but everyone does :)
In the classroom, teachers of writing experience student writer prototypes. The variation of prototypes within my own family has fascinated me. Stay tuned for posts about specific daughters and their experiences.