"Writing is a social act. People write to affect the lives of others." --Donald Graves

Children need to share their writing with others. In a traditional Writing Workshop format, sharing is done at the end of each workshop session. Often one to three children take turns sitting in an "author’s chair" to read a selection or a short (1-2 page) piece to the entire class. At other times children share in small groups or in pairs. Sharing is always voluntary.

After a reading, the child author calls on listeners to respond to his piece. So that the responses a child receives are the kind of responses that will help move a piece forward, Graves, A Fresh Look at Writing pg. 136, suggests teaching students how to listen and respond:

Some teachers find it helpful to ask responding children to begin comments with "I" rather than "you," and to avoid using the word "should." (Ex. "I heard...." "I think..." I wondered..." I didn’t understand...") "I" language makes it clear that the responding child is expressing an opinion (which the author can either accept or reject).

The child author needs to hear as specifically as possible what strikes his listeners. Encourage responders to quote words and phrases as much as possible through your own modeling. "I like your story," is too vague to help a writer. But "I especially liked the part about the horse ride when you write how you ‘bounced up and down in the saddle’ when your horse began to gallop," tells the writer exactly what "worked" in his writing.

When your class is practiced at sharing, Graves ( pp. 137-138) suggests broadening the content of the share sessions, asking children to share the new things they are trying in their writing, perhaps things that you have just taught in a mini-lesson. For example, you might ask Did anyone try a new form of punctuation today? or Did anyone experiment with something that didn’t work today? or Did anyone try writing a character description today?

Share sessions are not the only way writing can be shared, or course. Here are some other ways to share writing:



From the Writing Curriculum Files
of Children's Author, Suzanne Williams