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5th Grade Writer's Workshop: SOL 12

Write. Share. Give. Join the March Slice of Life Story Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers
On Mondays and Thursdays from 1:45 until 2:45, I have a group of four (4!) very smart girls who come to me for advanced writing. We trust each other. We respect each other. We spend a great deal of our time in companionable silence. These two hours a week are among my favorite times. 

There is a routine to our time. They walk out to my portable buzzing with chatter about their lives. Filling me in on the time I wasn't with them. As we enter the portable, they each grab an iPad and settle in at a table to listen. Everyone gets a chance to talk about what piece is being worked on or what craft move they are hoping to try. I usually interject a brief lesson involving a craft move or mentor text based on what they have told me. This means I must listen carefully to what they need. This also means that I must have a toolbox at the ready filled with the right book or lesson for what they need.

This month they have been crafting slices of their lives. By the end of the month, they must have looked at what they've written and weave them together into a new product. They have options. They can create found poems from their slices. They can lift lines. They can illustrate. I have been introducing different ways for them to create one cohesive piece from the many slices. It is hard work. It is creative work. For them, it is very quiet work. I tend to talk to think, but with these four I have learned that the more I let them be the better their work gets. Their work and thinking needs time to marinate, germinate, and marry.

Near the end of our time, one or two will ask for parts of their work to be workshopped. They understand the term. They aren't expecting anyone to fix their work. They sit silently after handing us each a copy of what they need us to work on. We read it and mark it and then we tell that girl what we think--the good, the bad, and the ugly. She is not allowed to respond. She can take notes but she must just absorb what we have to say. We say it kindly, but we don't hide what we think. 

I am working on self-esteem with these writers as well. We talk about how self-esteem is not about being told you are great, it's about being willing to hear the growth possibilities and making the choice that you need. You are in charge of your self-esteem. We talk about this a lot because writing is so personal, it's hard sometimes to separate who you are from how you are writing.


  1. "We talk about how self-esteem is not about being told you are great, it's about being willing to hear the growth possibilities and making the choice that you need." Powerful words. I've copied them down into my notebook as I think I need this reminder as well--the reminder to embrace growth opportunities. Thanks for sharing a window into your amazing work with these girls.

  2. I can see how these hours can be among your favorites, sharing a common passion with these girls. The authors that come to my school talk a lot about the writing process, how one must be open to sometimes severe editing without giving up. Writing takes self-esteem, stamina, and perseverance!

  3. I want to be in that group! (Do you accept boys?) :)

    Marinate, germinate and marry. I'm going to steal these words to think about more...

  4. What incredible work you are doing! This experience will surely live in their memories and hearts.

  5. What a heavenly spot for you and these girls, writing together, growing together. I love what you wrote about self-esteem. It's about hearing the growth possibilities and making the choice that you need. Of course! If you are confident, you have the openness to grow.

  6. What a great group you are working with!! How lucky for you and them to be able to write in such a comfortable environment. I love the ideas that you've shared with them about how they can pull all of the writing together when they are done. PLEASE share some of the final products with us, as I am sure they will be just as amazing as the gals that you're working with.

  7. I know they'll take away the craft moves, and ideas from each other's writing and from you, but this is the best thing, Kimberley: "because writing is so personal, it's hard sometimes to separate who you are from how you are writing." What a helpful life lesson for you to give them.

  8. What a wonderful slice. This close group, writing side by side, might just be the best self esteem work they could do, right now. They are lucky to have you and each other.

  9. You are in charge of your self esteem. This! Ah, yes! Loved hearing about this hour with your four writers.

  10. Jealous of those kids - I want in on this writing workshop in your cottage. :)

  11. What a powerful story of young writers, coming together, and the way that the situation is built on trust and sharing. Inspirational post! (Now, I just need time for a small writing group)

  12. What a lovely time for you all! It is the gift of time with likeminded creators that we need most to be the people we can truly be. You are doing great work and have expressed it beautifully!

  13. I agree with everyone's comments! This is inspirational and exciting! I wish I could sit in with your group!

  14. Brilliant!
    And what you are teaching about self-esteem is life-changing!


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