I have just finished my second day of The Dean’s Institute at Kutztown University (ok, so it isn’t Columbia in NYC) My first two days have been with Mark Overmeyer talking about writing workshop. If you haven’t heard of Mark yet, find out where he will be speaking and go to see him. If you are looking for a lot of bells and whistles with his presentation you won’t get them (thank goodness!), what you will get is a down to earth, honest, extremely talented teacher of writing sharing what he has learned through years of working with teachers and students. It feels so good to sit in a room with an “expert” presenter and practicioner and feel like he is a kindred spirit, I have had a smile on my face the whole time. Just to throw you a few examples of his message:
- If they can’t talk it they can’t write it- students need to talk about their writing before they write anything
- Write everyday, no matter what, if they learn that writing is something we are all welcome to do they will not fear it.
- It doesn’t matter the level of the student, they all deserve an opportinuty to be a better writer.
- The only student who you can’t help with writing is a student who has a blank page.
- If students are behind their peers they need to do more writing, not less.
- Accelerate not decelerate
- When looking at student writing, if you go straight to evaluation you miss many opportunities to learn from the student, admire their writing first and foremost.
I told you he was great! The simple message I hope for all teachers to take from Mark is to ADMIRE student writing, start from what they can do and move forward from there…what a different world of writers we would be growing if everyone truly lived this.