Well, as with all things...I was prepared with a lesson plan. I knew the direction in which I was heading, and was prepared to be flexible.
We were late starting, due to issues beyond our control - the 'powers-that-be'! Not atypical in my teaching career. We had 11 participants, by the time the last person wandered in, almost as if on purpose, iPod earbuds in ears blocking out the rest of the world.
I remember my late father talking about his high school teacher. No matter how late a students entered, his teacher would always mark him present on the attendance, and say, "Welcome! You're just in time!" I like to take that stand, too!
We introduced ourselves, told one another why we were there, what we were hoping for, I asked them to go around the circle and tell my what they had last written. A couple were in the middle of a novel, another a book. Then I asked what they had last read.
I told them about my student, 'Sarah', and explained that her response to my gr. 8 Cr. Wr. class was the reason I was there. The power of writing, whether it by journaling or poetry, stories, memories or songs, I have seen it work in the classroom. The research on Autobiographies demonstrates this.
Forgetting notebooks, some had brought pen and pencils, notepads and notebooks for handouts. I gave them a phenomenal handout, from Nancy Atwell's Lessons That Change Writers, "Questions for Memoirists". I was reluctant to hand out papers for those without a binder, but if they lose them - well, we'll recopy them!
We spoke of the quote I love, from Atwell's book, "Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen." --Willa Carter
We began real writing with a quick brainstorming session, to teach them the difference between Monkey Mind and Wild Mind. (see Natalie Goldberg for this!) Basically, the idea is to get the monkey off of our backs who criticizes us as a writer, as a person, as a human being, as a student, employee, or spouse or parent. Some caught the free flow. I asked them to share their top 'brainstorm' writing territory topic.
We talked about our meeting time, as it was a busy day for a few of the participants. That was satisfactory and we altered our meeting dates and times.
How to provide feedback. Some are eager to share their work, several read poems they'd just written that received accolades and clapping. Reading work aloud, in a group, is a scary prospect until all feel safe and comfortable. There isn't time for me to read each participant's work during the 1 1/2 hrs. we have time to meet. I shall reflect on this.
1. I'd like to explore letters and letter writing. Evenutally, I will talk about punctuation.
2. Quotes to print: "Ignorance is not knowing. Stupidity is the active pursuit of ignorance."
3. Essay Writing handouts for those pursuing formal courses
4. 5 paragraph checklist
5. Rubric for writing
6. The writing process
7. 20-page book?
8. Another night for one-on-one editing?