Last week I was in Salina, KS for three days in the schools. On Thursday, I had four sessions. The first was with three fifth-grade classes (9-10 year olds). Then I went into each class separately to do a workshop on storytelling and writing, as I described a few posts ago. I remembered to take my camera. Here are a few pictures of the students writing about candy. That's the topic I almost always start with.
While they write, the students are usually absolutely focused. If they get stuck, I remind them to keep writing. I may give a quiet prompt, "What's the worst candy you ever had?" or "Don't forget about candy at Halloween or Easter or Christmas."
Though this was only a three minute piece, they were able to get quite a lot down on paper.
Some of the kids read aloud afterwards. If we'd had more time, we would have been able to hear more of the writings.
One girl wrote a piece that personified the candy, moving past the first stage writings which are often like this: "I like candy. Candy is awesome. My favorite candy is...." It's not a bad stage, but I'm always interested to hear what happens when they move through it to something juicy.
My only regret in these workshops is that we could have used another hour or two. I like to give two topics at a time: "Write about armadillos and/or roller coasters." We expand to five- and ten-minute writings. With more time, we also have more time for other writing games. Even with this short amount of time (50 minutes for the storytelling session, 50 minutes for the workshop), the kids were jazzed about writing and would have happily have spent much more time exploring with pencil and paper.