How To Start A Student Writing Group
Aug 15, 2008 Writing 1714 Views
I created a writing group at my school this past year, and it has become a hit with the students who enjoy writing. Let me share a few guidelines and tips that you may use to start and run your own student writing group.
1.Establish separate groups for different ages, grade levels, or ability levels. There are a number of ways to do this, but you probably don't want to mix a gifted eighth grader with a second grader who writes very little. In a small school, a group of two or three grade levels may work. In a larger school, you could have a beginners group, more advanced group, and publishing group. The focus of each group will be more targeted that way, and members can move to more appropriate groups if they are not comfortable in the current one.
2.Advertise the group in different ways weeks before your first meeting. Send flyers home with students, put it on the school website, in the school newsletter, and personally invite students you think should come.
3.The initial meeting should be very open. Tell students they don't have to bring any writing, and don't even have to join; it's just for information. I attracted students who I didn't think would enjoy a writing group. They stayed, and I saw their writing improve in the classroom as the year progressed. At the first meeting, which should last a half hour or less, you should tell the students that this group is all about them. It is not a class, not a grade, not a requirement. Then tell them what some other writing groups do, and ask what they would like to do. The group could go in any number of directions: critique each others work, read writing aloud, read silently, do a mini-lesson each time, publish work in a booklet, publish online (on the school site), play creativity games, get writing prompts, write during the meeting, role play scenes from favorite books, or do an online chat with a published author.
4.Set up a time to meet once or twice a month. You can set this up at your initial meeting, but you may want to first send a survey home with the interested students, to see what their family schedules allow. Decide if there's a minimum amount the students need to attend, and if they have to bring some writing each time. If you are critiquing, it is important for students to bring their writing, but perhaps you can think of something to do for the students who didn't have time to write.
5.Go with the flow. It will take a little while to find out what works best for your group. Make sure you always have some extra activities available, in case you need them. Search for creativity exercises, role playing, writing prompts, etc.
That should be enough information to get your student group started. Search the web for youth writer sites. There are several. Since some will become inactive, look for new sites each month. You may even want to set up a special bulletin board or section of your school's website just for your writing group. Then they can use the resources you provide, without it feeling like another classroom assignment.