10 Myths of Writer’s Workshop: Part 2 of 4

Myth #4: Drawing is for babies.

I wrote about this already. Drawing is a valid form of prewriting and writing (see cave paintings). By allowing students to transition from drawings to labels and then sentences, you make writing relevant. Bringing visuals into the writing process also sparks imagination and allows non-writers and English Language Learners to participate in the process

Myth #5 Good writers don’t change their minds.

I have several blog entries that have never seen the light of day. I have a box of unfinished scripts. And most of my finished pieces have gone through tons of different iterations before being published. However, in many classrooms, whatever students start writing on Monday, they must take through the entire writing process. By having a publishing deadlines and not requiring students to move at the same pace within that structure, changing your mind is part of the process. Students can go back to their brainstorming list at any time and choose another idea (again, as long as they publish by the deadline).

Myth #6 Stories need a (traditional) beginning, middle, and end.

We were all taught that stories need a beginning, middle, and end but teaching that students often leads to a laundry list type of writing. Take for example, a story about visiting Raging Waters.

I went to Raging Waters with my mom. We parked the car. We bought tickets. We ate a hot dog. We rode many rides. We had fun. We were tired. We went home. I played video games with my cousin. He slept over. The next day he went home.

What is this story about? There are several possible stories in this piece of writing and few details. How about focusing on a small moment instead. How about focusing on just one ride and really noticing sensory details of the experience.

I could smell sunscreen all around me and heard the sound of ladies screaming as they rode down the slide. There were butterflies in my stomach as I climbed the steps of The Terror waiting my turn to slide down the one thousand foot drop…

Sometimes you have to just start writing and find the structure within what you’re writing. As per Lucy Calkins, it’s easier to revise a smaller, focused piece of writing then a long string of ideas.

2 thoughts on “10 Myths of Writer’s Workshop: Part 2 of 4”

  1. Myth #6 –

    Wow, this has been killing me, as we just finished our State Writing Assessments, and so many pieces of writing fell into this category. We have some how confused our students into thinking that quantity is better than quality.

    How do we get around this? I have been thinking of just letting them write and then having them pick a single paragraph and use that as steam for a new piece of writing.

  2. Sounds like a good idea. I prefer to talk about it though in terms of ideas than paragraphs. In drafting…what is this story about? In revising…would the flow be better if this would be a separate paragraph? In proofreading…this paragraph is really two separate ideas and needs indenting.

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