Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Families Write-Summer 2012

I have been a stalker of Teachers Write this summer. (Thank you, Kate Messner, Jen Vincent and Gae Polisner for this amazing idea and implementation!) Teachers Write is a virtual community of writers that Kate Messner initiated. She has inspired hundreds of people to post, comment, share pieces of writing, reflect, and encourage each other in writing and in teaching writing. If you have not checked out some of the suggestions, posts, and comments, I recommend them highly for anyone with an interest in any aspect of writing. My initial plan when I saw what Kate and other writers and teachers were organizing was to participate. However, I got sidetracked by the writing that it inspired me to do under my own roof with my family. Instead of summer of Teachers Write, we have had a summer of Families Write.

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.

1 comment:

  1. This post made my heart happy. So inspiring. Thanks for the great reminder to spread reading and writing throughout all our lives!