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In our intermediate and secondary classes, the schedule doesn't always allow for a separate writing block of time, so we blend the two together. These classrooms often have time for only two rounds, and students usually have to choose Read to Self and Work on Writing, but they get to decide the order in which they participate.

Toward Changing the Language of Creative Writing Classrooms

Even if our day includes a separate writer's workshop block, we typically deliver a brief writing lesson during one of our focus lessons during Daily 5. The topics come directly from things we notice as we confer with students. This saves the in-depth writing instruction for writer's workshop time. Writing has always been important to us. The link between reading and writing has been proven extensively through research. With the introduction of the rigorous Common Core State Standards in writing, the importance of providing time and impeccable instruction in writing has taken on even greater urgency.

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Literary Scouting

The solution I came up with is an adaptation of a stubbornly entrenched model, not an overhaul. But I am convinced that we can teach creative writing without the language of failure or success, criticism or praise, and that doing so will help us avoid reproducing systemic oppressions, damaging students psychologically, and stunting creative work. The experiment begins with two questions: What happens if we take value language out of the classroom, avoiding words like good, working, strengths, better, improve?


The result, I hope, is that our conversations about craft can be reinvented and reinvigorated as conversations that remind us what art is for. Worse, such conversations habituate students to writing for extrinsic rather than intrinsic reward: for pats on the back.

And copious pedagogical research demonstrates that a focus on extrinsic reward reduces risk-taking and hamstrings the quality of creative work. Even praise, like any other drug, will eventually poison art. Like criticism, it makes us forget what art is for. Does your heart race? Do you cry?

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Pick up the dictionary to look up a word? More important: Which elements of the text, and of the world the text inhabits, determine your response? When a student is asked to move away from value-laden language in conversations about creative work, she is being asked to resist a set of nebulous, arbitrary, class- and culturally-coded aesthetic values, to study the reading process, and to define her values for herself.

I point out that different people—or the same person, on different days—might choose to read one author instead of the next. Their bodies of literature fulfill different needs. The learning is always two-way. For writers, the chance to lead a workshop is appealing for several reasons. Firstly, it can get you out of the house! On a practical level, workshops can also be a source of income. Teaching can ginger up our own practice and make us interrogate our values around writing in order to convey them to others.

However, the experience may not always be positive.

Units of Study in Writing, Grades K-8

Giving to others may deplete our own creative resources, employment practices might not be ideal, participants may be problematic or actively dislike us, and there may be any number of other niggles or concerns. Anne Taylor and I have both been participants in many workshops as well as having trained in, respectively, coaching and the therapeutic benefits of writing.

We are both published writers with an abiding interest in how writing and wellbeing work together, and have devised the Running Writing Groups online course to explore all the above — and we hope, to inspire you to devise your own workshops and deliver them successfully. Victoria Field works as a writer in a variety of genres and is a pioneer in the world of poetry therapy.

Launching Writers Workshop - 3 min.

She has won prizes for her fiction, poetry, drama and creative non-fiction and has been commissioned for BBC Radio 3 and 4. Professional Writing Academy Follow. How to run a writing workshop. Victoria Field. Learn the principles of running a workshop Identify what kind of workshop you would like to run Explore and identify your role as a facilitator Develop an action plan for your writing workshop Running Writing Groups course.