Because we did this at a time when schools were trying to catch up after many months' being closed during the Ebola crisis, we were only able to provide a single day's training with the hope that our follow-up visits to the school could solve any problems they were having carrying out their workshops. We called it Leading Young Writers Workshop Part One, and we have great admiration for these teachers who forged ahead anyway.
Yesterday we held LYW Workshop Part Two, and it was a delightfully different group. They were no longer the slightly dazed but polite, brave learners from from last year but confident and outspoken process-writing teachers. Here they are doing self-editing on their own personal writing drafts we asked them to bring so we could carry out the editing process together—a stage that we had not had time to cover thoroughly in our first workshop.
We started the workshop asking for problems they were having in their clubs, and kept referring back to the list throughout the day, trying to work those through. When we asked whether they were seeing any benefit from the clubs, their enthusiasm nearly blew me away!
- The children have gained great confidence and skills in both reading and writing from reading their work aloud during conferencing.
- Any club facilitator who says a child who attends regularly is not improving, must not be taking them through all the stages. Every child who attends regularly, benefits.
- The children see themselves as authors: some even write creative work on their own now, and bring it to school to show the teachers.
- They have such self-confidence (boldness, it is called here)! When students are to conduct the morning assembly, it is the club members who always volunteer, and carry it out well.
- They communicate more: rather than sending someone to tell a teacher something, they will now write a note. They are much more willing to write.
- The club helps the teachers in their own writing tasks, with both skills and confidence.
- The club has changed how the teachers teach writing in the classroom. Even teachers who are not facilitators but only observe what is going on, now teach writing in class by telling students to draw on their past experiences for topics and by giving students choices of what to write on.
- The students in the club are more responsible in school, because of the club tasks that they perform and the understanding they have of management of the club.
- The club members are more able to read or answer questions written on the board during their regular classes than other students.