Tuesday, after school, was the first day of writing club, an after school activity modelled after writing workshop. I had four students, three girls in grade 3 and one boy in grade 4. Whenever I’ve sponsored a writing club in the past, I’ve gotten at least 40 kids. This was in my previous school in Calgary when I offered writing club during the lunch hour. This is the third time I’ve offered writing club at my current school and to have a total of four students register, again, was disappointing to say the least.
Nevertheless, I decided it was important to offer these students a quality writing club experience so I pocketed my disappointment and planned for the first day.
I modelled how to choose a topic by writing down two or three big ideas and smaller, more manageable sub-ideas below these. I used a think aloud strategy so that my students could listen in on how a more experienced writer selects a writing topic from a sea of potential ideas. Then, I had my students do the same thing and share their list with a partner. Next, we wrote silently for the first 10 minutes of club time. I believe it’s important for writers to have a quiet writing time during some portion of the writing workshop. At the end of the 10 minutes, we shared our writing with a partner.
During the last 15 minutes, the students had a choice to continue writing or drawing, or to start working on something new. This is my time to confer with students about their writing – the most important part of writing workshop for me as a teacher.
This predictable structure – focus lesson, 10 minutes of silent writing, sharing with a partner, writing (alone or with a partner), teacher conferring with students – will remain the same throughout the writing club sessions to allow students to plan for their writing.
I experienced a deep sense of satisfaction at the end of writing club, not only because all four kids were writing and engaged but because I practised letting go of something that never works for me – holding on to disappointments or resentments (in this case having only 4 students register for writing club) and finding what works: accepting what is and planning for that, enjoying my students, and celebrating writing.