The Importance of Sharing

We all know that planning and writing are important parts of the workshop. There is another important piece and often it is the first to go. Sharing. When time starts to run short it is often the daily sharing time that gets cut short or ignored completely. We say things like, “I know I should do it, but who has time?”

Why should sharing be a priority?

  • Audience. Why do we write? To tell a story to an audience. If students are not allowed this time to share their work with an audience there is less motivation to write.
  • Accountability. When students know there is an expectation of sharing, either with a peer, the class or teacher they are held accountable for their work.
  • Community. Sharing among peers on a daily basis helps to build a community. We learn about each other’s interests, families, and worries. It builds a group of students who appreciate each other.
  • Revision. Often as students share their work they notice something they missed. This natural form of revision is what gets students started on the revision process.
  • Celebration. We are able to compliment, suggest and celebrate student writing when we allow time to share and celebrate.

How do I start?

There are so many ways students can be involved in active sharing. I believe daily sharing is vital. However, if it is not something you do regularly, start small.

  • Carve out time to share two days a week. Let students catch everyone up on their stories and where they are in their process.
  • Turn and talk is a quick form of sharing with a peer.
  • Post their work for students to view. Allow students to walk the gallery of work and leave sticky note comments.
  • Invite a classroom in to give your students a fresh audience. It is a great opportunity for students to have a new set of eyes and ears. They are so proud of their work. When they know sharing is important, their work becomes more important.
  • Start a classroom blog and post student work for families and other students to see. This can be a huge motivator.
  • Enlist the help of older students in the building, staff members and administration. Invite them in or have your students set up appointments. This is a positive way to connect to other adults and students in the building while showcasing something they worked really hard to complete.

What about the students who never want to share?

These students exist. Maybe they are unsure or nervous. These students don’t need to be put on display, but sharing is a part of writing workshop. Allow them to share on their own terms. You or one peer off to the side is a place to start. It’s important to show their work has value. If they don’t share it, they can’t celebrate their hard work. Draw them out little by little to make them part of the community of writers you have in your classroom.

What does it look like?

Here are two students sharing in mid-workshop.

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They are using the visuals (shown above) that explain the job of the “talker” and the “listener.” This method began as a classroom chart (shown above) that evolved into individual student visuals to help them stay on track. This can be used during both planning and sharing time.

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This is a picture of my class at “the sharing circle.” This has become a daily ritual and the students know when I begin to whisper, “sharing circle,” it’s time to wrap up for the day and share out the effort. Here, everyone is sharing with a peer. We have modeled and rehearsed this many times and I am able to monitor and listen to students as well.

I believe sharing comes down to management. Nothing happens in one day. It takes a lot of effort and time on the teachers part to encourage students to use tools, establish routines and take initiative to follow through. I hope you will consider using sharing rituals in your classroom with your writers. The impact is great and the pay back is even better. Students value each other and a community of writers is born.