Woven Word Creative Writing Workshops in Schools
"I have been teaching for 30 years. ... I’ve attended Lucy Calkins workshops, read Nancy Atwell’s work, and completed a week-long course with the folks from New Zealand. ... This is best practice at its best. Simply put, Lynn’s approach to creative writing is highly effective for a wide range of children. ... Reluctant writers began to open up and write with a new conviction and even enthusiasm." -Linda Donnelly, teacher, The Common School, grades 5 - 6
A Case For Woven Word In The Classroom: Despite the best efforts of teachers, school often makes students wary of writing. It is easy for classroom writing periods to turn into a high-stress environment where the finicky, dry rules of grammar are the emphasis and the end work is analyzed more for sentence structure than creativity or heart. It is no wonder that so many students see writing as a chore, as a boring homework assignment, as something to be dreaded for fear of getting it "wrong."
Woven Word seeks to help teachers change this. After all, who can be truly talented at something he or she dislikes? We offer an entirely new tool for instruction, that of a highly enriched creative writing workshop environment set within the classroom. Woven Word demonstrates the effectiveness of creative workshop space. This unique environment is fueled by a choice of fun prompts and affirmative peer feedback, and facilitated to teach each student that they already are "a writer". Woven Word's program helps students realize just what they can do with their own writing voice, how to appreciate it, and why learning all those rules just might be worth it after all. If a student can see writing as an enjoyable art form, with the more technical aspects as only tools, he or she will be more willing to work at improving.
Schools sessions are typically an hour. We meet in a writing circle and open with short poetry or excerpts from famous children's authors which are used to demonstrate that every writer has their own voice. Each of the student writers also has their own voice and style and it is their job to tell it to the world. The facilitator then gives a set of loose prompts and students write for 10-15 minutes.
After the writing period students share their pieces. Positive comments by peers and the workshop facilitator are carefully guided to support the writers' new born words. The uniqueness of this part of the workshop is described by Margaret Riddle, Principal at R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary school. "Most people think of sharing time as just show and tell. With your work I feel it is the heart of the instruction. You bring all the elements of fine writing into your own reflections on the students work. You do this so apparently effortlessly, and it engages the students in learning the skills of writing in such an appealing way."
Woven Word workshops train teachers in a method that is simple, adaptable, and easily replicable. Through the workshop students are given a chance to reclaim writing as their own. This means that they will see improvement as something they can be proud of, that they want to reach for. And yes, if that means learning about grammar, so be it. In fact, the workshops are intended to serve as one component of a broader writing curriculum which includes grammar instruction, development of editing skills, etc. Woven Word workshops serve to help writers find their own essential voice. They inspire students to involve themselves in a life long journey of writing.
Woven Word workshop consultation is available by contacting Lynn Bowmaster at: Lrbowmaster@gmail.com. To see full letters of recommendation from schools who have contracted with Lynn, go to the Testimonials page here. A formal proposal is available here.
To see an essay written by Lynn for the Mass Humanities blog The Public Humanist about why young writers need more creative writing instructions go here.
"I continue to use Lynn’s style of writing workshop with my classes. I’ve found that creative writing allows the kids to find their voice. They naturally try out elements of good writing--dialogue, description, humor, action, emotions--in their fiction and poetry. I learned a lot by observing Lynn’s work with children and I highly recommend having her in the classroom." Ann Desmond, 4th Grade Teacher, R.K. Finn Ryan Rd. Elementary School
"Our teachers have been delighted with this project. ... The experience has affected their own teaching and has inspired them to learn more and more about being effective writing teachers." -Margaret Riddle, R. K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School Principal