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Workshops Work!: A Parent's Guide to Facilitating Writer's Workshops for Kids Paperback – November 16, 2012
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"Patricia Zaballos understands that kids won't develop a love of and skill in writing if they're coerced to write. Instead, she inspires them to write! Her workshops give kids a reason to write, such as having an audience and something to say. She creates a safe, supportive, peer-to-peer experience such as many adult writers benefit from, rather than the conventional top-down, assigned topic approach characteristic of so many school situations. It's wonderfully respectful of children and their writing - and it works!"-Wendy Priesnitz, publisher of Life Learning Magazine
"Workshops Work! shows parents, teachers, tutors, and other writing workshop leaders the important human qualities needed to develop young writers: patience, enthusiasm, and empathy. Patricia Zaballos draws from a deep well of experience to share her best methods and tips for helping kids of all ages enjoy writing while learning about themselves and exploring their own interests." -Gary Anderson, author of Expository Composition: Discovering Your Voice
"Workshops Work! is a fantastic resource for parents and educators alike. Equal parts practical and philosophical, Workshops Work! is a great guide to the nuts and bolts of teaching writing in a child-centered atmosphere that will encourage the development of an authentic love of writing. Patricia writes with a great sense of humor and purpose, while also managing to outline the process of starting, structuring and making sustainable writer's workshops that will benefit almost any kid."-Annie Riechmann, creator of Alphabet Glue e-magazine
"Workshops Work! provides inspiration and the nitty gritty details to help anyone establish a writer's workshop. The book is geared toward adults who are working with kids, but you could just as easily use this book to establish an adult writer's workshop. It's full of wonderful nuggets that will not only help writers and writing teachers respond and help their students respond more effectively to workshops, but will help us respond more effectively and empathetically to each other out in the world, in daily life."-Kate Hopper, author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers
About the Author
Patricia Zaballos is a writer and longtime homeschooling parent of three, and a former elementary school teacher. For over a dozen years, she has facilitated writer's workshops for homeschoolers; before that she held a daily writer's workshop in her classroom. Through articles, speaking engagements and her website, Patricia encourages parents to forget the detrimental stuff they may have learned about writing in school, and to consider a different, more meaningful approach with their kids.
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As a homeschooling mom who has a bookshelf of [most likely] fabulous books I haven't read yet on learning and parenting, this book managed to make itself readable by presenting the first half of the chapters in a short, readable format. I found that I could read a chapter as my morning coffee water was heating, which is a perfect amount of time for me. The topics range from what kids can write about to structuring the workshop and guiding kids to provide sensitive, constructive feedback. I did find the 'toolbox' section at the end was a bit intimidating for me, but the text immediately before that section advises the readers to view the toolbox section as supplemental material, or even not to read it all if they choose. Readers should take that advice seriously! I didn't know that I felt intimidated afterwards, but I did put down the book for a while. There are a number of great resources in that section, however, so avail yourself of them if it doesn't become a barrier.
The last thing I'd say about this book is that you will probably have your own unique questions about your own abilities to begin leading a workshop, or perhaps your own child's enthusiasm about the process. Patricia encourages folks to post questions or feedback in the community section on her website/blog, and you can tell that she genuinely wants to continue the dialogue with whoever is interested or who needs help and support. I will be logging onto it soon!
By the time I'd finished reading this book, I felt pretty confident that I could facilitate a writing workshop for kids. That's some feat, considering I'd picked up the book hoping that I could force it onto another homeschooling friend, in the hope that she would lead it.
For me it was liberating because Zaballos makes the whole thing seem really straightforward. Provide a space for children, let them write without constraints on spelling, punctuation, etc., let them dictate their writing to parent-scribes. By providing the audience, she argues, we kindle the flame of a love of writing, and by letting go of the rule book we allow children to develop their unique writing voices. The Ps and Qs will come in time.
The first half of the book explains how to go about running a writer's workshop. The author covers topics such as how to give feedback, what to do at the first meeting, how often to meet. The book is just specific enough to make you feel as though you're in safe hands, but as another reviewer said, there's also a sense of pleasant ambiguity: what will the children who attend bring with them?!
The toolbox section is invaluable because it points the reader to resources to expand one's learning. Zaballos recommends plenty of other books on related topics, and I now have a long list of other books to explore. I would have loved a list of writing explorations the author has used in her workshops, but perhaps this is expecting the magician to reveal her secrets!
Until I've actually run a workshop, I don't know how it will go. But what I can say is that as a result of reading Workshops Work, I feel excited about the prospect.