Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monterrey writing workshops

Through the years, I've offered a workshop for kids called Storytelling, Storywriting. We start with the difference between written and told stories, discuss structure and backstory, and play with a story or two. Then we write, using a modified version of Natalie Goldberg's rules for writing practice, from her book Wild Mind. Sometimes we have time for a last writing game, sometimes we just write (and read aloud) more.

On Saturday, I presented this two-hour workshop twice for 105 fifth-grade students, age 11 or so, at the Young Authors' Workshop at Colegio Ingles in Monterrey. The students are chosen by their teachers to attend this special three-day workshop. They come from different cities, from schools where they are taught in English for part of the day. The students arrive with their teachers and then go home to host families here in Monterrey. For many, it's the first time they've been away from home.

I was apprehensive about doing this with non-native English speakers, until I remembered that I did it in Belgium a few years ago, in classes where only some of the kids were native speakers. It worked, both there and here.

Here's what some of it looked like: Notice the teacher writing with the kids. These teachers were enthusiastic and helpful throughout. Some modeled good writing behavior, some did general crowd control. Many told me they would take the exercises back to use in their classrooms.

The only tough part was getting the kids to listen. While they were writing, they were absolutely silent, but when they were done, they were so excited about writing and reading aloud that it was deafening!

After the second workshop, I went to use the bathroom. I heard a voice from another stall intoning, "I...am the ghost...with the one...black...eye." Love that!

I've had an e-mail from one of the other students, telling me how much he enjoyed the workshop. Hey, Pablo! Keep writing!


Deb said...

What you did here is just great! And a good post, too!

It'll be nice to have you home....

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