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The Importance of Share Time in Your Writing Block

share time in writers workshop

Time in the classroom seems to be diminishing each year. There are a multitude of subjects, topics, standards, programs, and more to fit into your day and they each seem to need more time.

For this reason, parts of our day that seem to be "extra" or "luxury" practices get squished out or set aside for another day. I have found that Share Time in writing is often cut out of the writing block even when the teacher is utilizing the writer's workshop framework. I suspect this may be due to the fact that teachers often believe Share Time is meant only for students to "share" they work because that is something they like to do. If you are one of the teachers who believes this, I am here to change your mind so that Share Time can take back its rightful place in your day!

Benefits to Value

Yes, students (not all, but many) do enjoy sharing their work. They are proud of it and like to be the center of attention at times. And although it is nice for them to share what they have written 'just because' it is also a way to build community, which is the first benefit on my list.

Building Community

When students listen to writers as they share, they are able to get to know them even more. Students hear about their lives in personal narratives, learn what they are good at or know a lot about from informational pieces and hear topics they care about in their opinion writing. Getting to know one another is a big part of creating a community where learners feel valued.

As students share, their classmates are also able to provide compliments. These words of praise and encouragement will boost their confidence as well as their relationships with peers. You can model ways to give compliments and provide sentence stems for students to use during Share Time. I always like to teach students how to focus on the writer with their words. For example, they can say "You used strong describing words that helped me understand what it looked like." Not only can students share what they have written on the pages but may also speak to their actions as a write, such as how they chose a topic, what they did to plan or any other writing action they may have used.

After being coached how to do so, students may also provide feedback other than compliments, when requested by the writer. Perhaps the writer is struggling with elaboration or is just not sure if their writing is clear to their readers. Classmates listening are able to assist them as peer revisors or editors, which then allows the class to see their peers' strengths and skills as writers. Then, they will hopefully also work together in the future. Everyone wins!

Increasing Writing Content Language

Similar to other subjects, writing has its own set of content vocabulary and we want to build the usage of that vocabulary in students. During lessons, you model these vocabulary words and phrases, which is one part of their application process. During Share Time, students will engage in using this vocabulary themselves. As they do so, you have the opportunity to coach them along the way. If they do not use many content words, you can help them to add them in.

Let's walk through a student's turn during Share Time. A fifth-grade student sits in the "author's chair" with his persuasive speech. You have previously modeled and provided time to practice ways writers may introduce their piece as well as the parts of the writing process they may wish to share. This writer has chosen to talk about the portion of their piece they feel is the strongest. He begins by saying, "I have written my persuasive speech about the House System we use in school. I believe the system is not helpful for building school community." Perhaps you decide to ask him why he chose this piece or how he gathered his evidence, which is not only a chance to re-iterate the skills students need to utilize for their writing, but also a chance for the writer to use additional writing language. The writer answers your question and then goes on to share, "the part of my speech I feel is the strongest is the third paragraph, where I talked about the counterargument. I think I used reasons I have heard others say and was able to really say why they are not valid."

Not only does the one sharing practice using writing vocabulary, but students hear it from someone other than you!

Time for Skill Reinforcement

When students share their work or things they have done as writers, there will be a multitude of skills that come to the surface. You may have chosen writers to share who have applied the strategy taught in that day's mini-lesson. Their classmates will be able to see one more model piece that uses the strategy and will hear the language of that strategy again as well. That same writer will have also used several other skills or strategies that you would be able to speak to as well.

Additionally, if the writer asks for any feedback, their fellow writers will be able to practice what they know to help them. This is one of the best ways for students to teaching others. Therefore, any previously taught skills can be reinforced. And all the while, you are there to coach your writers as needed.

What About that Whole Time Issue?

I realize I cannot ignore what I brought up in the first place, time! Although I hope the benefits explained above will help you to see why you should find the time to implement Share Time on the regular, I realize it is difficult.

One suggestion I have is to alternate when Share Time happens. It does not always have to be at the end of writer's workshop or the writing block in general. For older grade levels, Share Time can be right at the beginning of your block. This is especially helpful for students who are stuck. They can ask for support from their classmates and hopefully get right to work afterwards. One benefit I neglected to share was that of students getting more ideas for writing. When they hear the topics of others, they have more to add to their bank of ideas. When Share Time happens at the beginning of the block, it may help students who are struggling with what to write about.

You can also hold Share Time in the middle of your writing time. Crazy, right?! This can be very helpful when trying to increase stamina for independent writing, as it gives students a break but also keeps them engages as well as provides insight into what other writers are doing. As the class is a bit more than halfway through their usual block of independent time, have them stop for Share Time. You may choose anywhere from 2-4 writers to share and may even have them chose only one part or one "topic" to discuss from their writing in order to keep it short. Then, have students get back to writing and see if you can increase their overall time by a few minutes.

My final thought on time for Share Time is to switch up your format from "one at a time" sharing to partner sharing. With this format, you are able to have everyone share at once while also providing time for language usage and skill or strategy reinforcement. The key is to teach students HOW to partner share in a way that is most effective!

Alright teacher, no excuses! Take time for Share Time and watch your writers grow!

Listen to Episode 62 to hear more about how Share Time can benefit your writers.

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