Thursday, February 16, 2006

Charging the Writer's Workshop Battery through LIstening!

" There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment." Norman Vincent Peale

I wish I had said that. Because I live it.

Living life in the writing classroom is an enthusiastic dance... really, a dance marathon, since the teacher constantly supports the interest and momentum of students with a dynamic culture that,as Katie Wood Ray writes..."hums."

SO how to avoid the dull days of February when Writer's Workshop is no longer new. That's a challenge to teachers and students. Here's a few entusiastic tips that have kept the dazzle in my workshop dance, and they surround the idea of Listening, which is the key to connection and motivation!

Take a Vakay

Take a break from writer's workshop...and substitute a study of listening. Challenge students to bring in cd's, tapes, published.. and their own recordings. Listen to the sounds of the world..birds, oceans...jackhammers! Follow up the listening with lists of writing just ideas. Make charts that will be used when the workshop convenes again....share stories with partners about connection made to the sounds, record the connections in a notebook for further writing when workshops begins again!

Musical Moments

Listen to favorite songs...but anyone who chooses a song to play for the class must have the lyrics to distribute. The student leads the study of the lyrics. Students sing along then "unpack" the lyrics! Groups may be formed to create new verses of songs!

Blinded by the Light

Break groups into 3's...have one person in the group blindfolded. Teacher plays soundtrack themed recordings of movies or tv shows. One person write his impressions as the music plays, what connections is that student making? Stopping occasionally, a recorder in the group writes connections that the blindfolded person is making. Then compare images...does the blindfolded person's list differ from the sighted person's written images?

Hollywood Swingers

Find pieces of a few scripts the students would enjoy. In groups, ask students to stage the scripts as short radio programs for the whole class. When staged, the presenting group works at the back of the room so students need to LISTEN to the mini-play. Their backs are to the players!

After presenting a few of these LISTENING Challenges...break out the writers notebooks...and the workshop may not just may ROAR into a new level of motivation!

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