A writing workshop is an exercise in turn taking. A writer shares copies of her work with the members of her group, reads her text aloud, and then quietly takes notes as her readers offer her comments and advice. After all her readers have responded to her work, the writer may ask them questions and the group can have a more relaxed conversation about her piece. Then the group moves on to the next writer and his piece—and the same process is repeated until everyone in the group has received feedback on their work.
Most groups find it useful to work along the lines of the following script:
Bring copies of your writing to the workshop (or circulate them beforehand).
Tell your readers the kinds of feedback you would most like get to your writing, or any questions or concerns you may have about your piece.
Read your piece (or sections of it) aloud.
Listen quietly and take notes on the responses of your readers.
Ask questions after all the readers have responded to your work.
Collect the annotated copies of your text from your readers.
Take notes on any issues or questions raised by the writer or your teacher.
Read along with the writer with a pen in your hand.
Mark effective passages with a straight line.
Mark passages you want to ask questions about with a squiggly line.
Circle or bracket key terms or ideas.
Once the writer finishes reading, take just a minute or two to quickly jot down some notes on:
What works best in this draft (or section).
What the writer most needs to work on next in revising.
Any issues or questions raised by the writer or your teacher.
Draw on your notes to offer the writer advice towards revision. If you’ve already responded in writing to this draft, try to add to (rather simply repeat) your written comments. Similarly, each reader should try to add in some way to the observations or advice of previous readers.
When all of the readers have responded to a piece, its writer may ask questions as a way into a less structured conversation about her work. Before you move on to discuss the next piece, make sure to return your annotated copy of the text to the writer.
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