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Since September I’ve been hosting a Writer’s Workshop for a fabulous group of students ranging in age from 8 to 15 years old. We started with a core group of kids which has shifted and grown a bit. We currently have eight writers who convene in our family room two to three Wednesdays a month. The young writers adore the time and as their mentor, it’s been a treat to hear their writing each week.
I promised them a collection of the writing resources I’ve been sharing with them and I thought it would be beneficial to share it with all of you. It’s a long post so bear with me. I’m going against my better judgment and keeping it as a one stop shop for now.
What Is a Writer’s Workshop?
A writer’s workshop is a time for writers to gather and share their work with each other. The concept has been around a long time and has various forms. Some workshops focus on using the time for writing coupled with a mini-lesson for writers. Other workshops bring work that is complete to share with the group. Ours is more the sharing sort of group.
Our workshop is based on the model from the book Workshops Work by Patricia Zaballos. The book explains the benefits of doing a writer’s workshop with kids along with the nuts and bolts of putting a workshop together. I was convinced from the moment I started reading the book and aimed to invite kids to join us this fall. We are a success! More on Workshops Work next month at Curriculum Choice (along with a giveaway!).
Book Resources for Writers
Some of these books were suggestions from Workshops Work. Others are books I have found along the way and have been using with the kids for years.
Rip the Page– Fun creative writing explorations for kids. This one is new to me and I’ve had a good time paging through it. I like to keep fresh ideas on hand for our time at writer’s workshop.
Games for Writing– A long time favorite of mine, this is a book full of practical ideas on playing with writing for grades K-3. I love Peggy Kaye’s approach to any topic using simple, hand made games for kids.
Games for Learning– This one has games for all sorts of subjects, but it includes ideas for writing. Once again, the exercises appeal to younger students.
Spilling Ink– A handbook for young writers with exercises inside in the form of dares. A pure pleasure. I happen to know a sequel is due out as well simply named, “Stuck”. For when you are at a loss for words. Bonus: We had the fantastic opportunity to have Anne Mazer join us for workshop one afternoon and it was the best ever! I happened to notice she lived locally to us (just a few miles away) after reading her bio in the back of the book. What an experience!
The Synonym Finder– Simply the best out there. If you want to play with the nuances of words. This is your ammo.
Dictionary– A nice dictionary. I’m in the market for an unabridged version, but for now we are using our collegiate dictionary from the early 90s. Unabridged because I like words.
Guy Write– A book all about boys and writing. This one is written to the boys and gives mentors and writing coaches permission to enjoy the way boys write. If you teach boys, this is a book for you!
A Writer’s Notebook– This one is a personal favorite. Does your writer have a notebook? I know I do! It’s next to me right now as I work on this post. Find out what a notebook is for and how to use it to improve your writing. Another one written directly to kids and available in the Kindle format for quick acquisition!
Live Writing– A quick look at a writer’s tool box. All the books in this series are easy to read and inexpensive. What does a writer use to make their writing happen? Find out!
How Writer’s Work– Written to the student, this book details how writers really write. Kids are taught in a particular way to work on something start to finish, but that is rarely how real writers approach their work- at least in the formal sense. Take a peek into the world of writers.
Teaching Grammar through Writing– Working on a link for this. The version I have may be out of print. However, if you can find it, this book is a handy tool in application of grammar as you write.
Write Source 2000– A handbook for reference. How to chapter on all sorts of writing.
Writer’s Inc– A handbook for writing. Easy to use and easy to read for the kids. I refer my kids to it all the time.
Blog & Website Resources for Writers
I’ve come across some really enjoyable and useful websites for young writers and writers of all kinds.
In Our Write Minds– This is the WriteShop blog and is written for teachers and students. There are a lot of writing exercises here for students young and old to try. If you have a writer in your midst, then there many ideas for feasting on here.
Wonder Farm– Patricia Zaballos’ blog. She’s an author and homeschool mom who “loves to write and wants others to love it too”. I could plant here and read for some time. When you do, you’ll come away with a glimpse of the passion she has for coaching writers. Her sidebar contains goodies like: “Becoming a Writing Mentor to Your Child” and “My Year of Excellent Essayists”. Gold!
Small World– Another homeschool mom, you’ll find Sarah loves writing and words. Check out Wordsmithery (you don’t want to miss this) and the Ultimate Guide to Creative Writing for Students.
Spilling Ink the Blog– The blogging home of Spilling Ink the book by Anne Mazer & Ellen Potter. Right now they have a contest for 8-12 year olds up. The age range of the contest actually inspired our kids to have their own with a much higher age limit. Stories are due next week writers! Are you ready?
NanoWriMo– This is the link to the Young Writer’s Program, but NanoWriMo is for adults too. November is National Novel Writing Month and you will love the encouragement to write as many words for your novel as possible. You have to see the programming they have in place for this big event. Start gearing up early and take advantage of the focus. Not to miss is the Dare Machine which gives really clever writing prompts and ideas. At this writing, there are 297 days and 2 hours left until NanoWriMo 2014!
Write at Home– This one is a gem. Find posts on grammar and characters along with anything else you can think of in the realm of writing. Brian answers the questions everyone has about annoying grammar mistakes and common misconceptions. Enjoy this blog geared to homeschoolers.
Go Teen Writers– This blog is a collaboration effort between several authors and is written to teens. There is a book by the same title which pulls together many of the posts on the blog. If you have a writer who wants to see something published, this is the blog to read!
Fortuigence– Looking for a way to introduce another writing mentor into your student’s life? Lily Iatridis has a series of essay modules perfect for outsourcing some of your student’s writing. I think it’s a great way to have alternative feedback on a teen’s writing.
Student Blogs for Writing Resource
I’ve gathered together a few student blogs including those of my kids and a few other workshop students. See what you think!
The 11 Dollar Dog– Written by the dog of one of our workshop students. A humorous look at the life of a dog in a human family world.
Of Bows & Arrows, Swords & Spears– Another workshop student blog who happens to be E15. He’s not super consistent, but I’m working on that.
Miss Bliss– The long time blog of R13 which focuses on her crafting, American Girl dolls, and sewing. Since she posts mainly from her Android device, she’s a minimalist when it comes to words.
Nairam of Sherwood– An early graduate of the One Year Adventure Novel program and a story teller in her own right. She’s not posting anymore really, but you can enjoy her stories and writing already there.
Geography Crusades– This is another of Ethan’s blogs which is the ongoing project for his Ancient Studies course for 10th grade this year. This blog will be the whole package from appearance to lots of content. Enjoy!
Why the Workshop?
Some folks may be asking why we’ve invested our time in a writer’s workshop. It’s simple really. We’ve seen results! The kids arrive eager to share and join others in encouraging each other in their writing. Does it get better than that?
For me, it’s been worth the little investment of time to see young writers flourish. Not all the kids who attend love writing. What they love is the audience. They love to write so others can hear.
- They write new installments of stories they’ve written when peers say they want to hear what happens next.
- They write the poem late into the night so they have something to share the following afternoon.
- They furiously write down the “golden sentence” from a book they love so they can share it.
- They clip ads from the local paper to share funny grammar mistakes with the group
- They ask the group how they can improve something they are working on
- They are eager to encourage one another young and older
The next best thing is sharing with young people how writers really write. They don’t sit with a formal checklist and a set of directions. They pull from experience and passion to put something on the page and making it polished is simply part of that. It’s letting kids know they are writers not just homework doers.
This post is part of iHN’s Resources for Homeschool Moms link up. Visit the link to learn about more resources from other bloggers.