Sharing in writing workshop is a powerhouse for producing energy, excitement, and new learning to sustain writers. I’ve always pressed teachers to tap into a variety of share sessions to keep energy levels for writing high. Routines are important to writers so they can establish predictability and efficiency. The routine of sharing at the end of each workshop time is non-negotiable. However, it’s important to vary the kind of share sessions students experience in writing workshops.
Author Chair: In this traditional share session, students sit in the author chair and share their writing with the community. After they read, classmates offer questions or compliments to support and encourage the writer. Some teachers give the writer a choice of a cheer at the end of their sharing time. Often young writers enjoy celebrating with a marshmallow clap or a “round” of applause. Many teachers enjoy adding fancy author chairs to their classrooms.
Partner Share: This is a go-to share when you’d like every child to have an opportunity to share. It’s also the ideal share when you are short on time. In a partner share, students share their writing or learning with a partner. Giving a specific focus to the share often makes it valuable. For example, ask students to share their revisions or leads. You could also ask students to share how they used their writing notebooks or to reflect on whether they stayed focused as a writer during work time.
Learning Share: In this share, students share their learning instead of their writing. For example, kindergartners may share how they learned to draw different expressions on characters in their illustrations. Different writers may share an angry expression, scared expression, or happy expression. A third grader may share how she determined how to end her personal essay. Another student might share how he experimented with line breaks in his poem. A learning share is another opportunity for teaching to occur in writing workshops. Sometimes it is the most powerful instruction, since the teaching is coming from students.
In addition to old favorites, I’ve discovered some new ideas for fresh share sessions.
High-Five Share: In this spin-off of a partner share, students put their hands up and find someone to high-five. After high-fiving, students share their writing or learning from writing workshop. After sharing, students put their hands in the air, looking for someone else to high-five. It’s a great opportunity for students to see a variety of ideas in a short amount of time. The high-five share prevents students from being idle, which leads to an effective share session.
Photo Share: By taking photos of students’ work, you can swiftly upload them into an iMovie or set them to play as a slide show. This is especially useful when the share session is split from the rest of workshop. In one classroom, writing workshop happened before lunch and the share session happened after lunch. We were able to capitalize on this break, as well as the transition from recess to the classroom, by using a photo share. Students highlighted their favorite line in their writing and we photographed it. We added a little music and played the video as students returned from recess. The iMovie app makes this a sleek and simple share for teachers to facilitate with their smartphones or tablets.
Photo shares make it convenient to share student work with parents via social media. We are able to turn attention to a specific process, craft, or convention teaching point. For example, we can take pictures of first graders’ illustrations and ask viewers to notice the setting and how writers added details to show either an indoor or an outdoor setting.
The photo share captures students’ writing and makes formative assessment easier to obtain. There is lasting evidence of student work, and teachers are able to spend time in assessment, noting what students know and need.
Leave a Note Share: This share was discovered by serendipity. A grade-level team swapped their students throughout the day. One day, our workshop time was cut a little short. Instead of skipping the share time, we asked kids to write a note to the student with whom they shared a seat. They included in their notes the thing they are most proud of as writers. We were surprised how much students enjoyed receiving and responding to the notes. The notes facilitated discussions as writers, helping students support one another and learn from one another. Another benefit of this kind of share is the written evidence we gathered. It lends itself well to formative assessment. Since the notes are written, teachers have time to process what their students are able to intentionally do as writers.
In the end, the share session is a non-negotiable component of writing workshops. As we continue to provide opportunity for students to talk and reflect on their writing, we will continue to find new formats for children to share their learning.