Writing workshops can be focused on poetry, song writing, fiction, mystery writing, or folktales. If teachers would like a different topic to be covered in the workshops in order to meet their curricular needs, Mary will be happy to discuss tailoring the topic.
Mary takes students through an exercise to develop a character; next Mary shows them how to establish a unique voice for this character; and finally students write a poem in the character’s first-person POV. Students will be given tips for revision and encouraged to revise these poems on their own. The techniques they learn can be applied to write new poems. These poems are especially great for performance, and Mary also gives tips on effective reading/speaking techniques. Poetry residencies are effective because poems can be written, read, and discussed in a shorter amount of time than a story; fiction residencies do require teachers to devote class time so that students can finish their stories.
Song Writing Residency:
Students learn the basic parts of a song and then collaborate on writing the lyrics for an original song. Through guidance and modeling, Mary shows students the brainstorming, writing, and revising process. The elements of great writing are all touched upon in this workshop: point of view, voice, metaphor, symbolism, clarity, etc. This residency can focus either just on song lyrics or on lyrics and music, depending on the number of sessions per class. Great for reluctant writers.
STEM Song Writing Residency:
Students collaborate on brainstorming, writing, and revising a song based on a STEM-related concept. We explore and experiment using science concepts in symbolism and metaphor. Poetic license allows students to play with personification. Learning the technology to record and share is available in an optional additional workshop. Here is a sample of a fifth grade song based on the biology of bees from the POV of a worker bee.
Mary takes students through an exercise to develop a character; next Mary shows them how to establish a “want” for this character that will become the driving force for both the voice and the plot; finally, students will begin writing a short story in this character’s voice. Mary will give tips for how to complete their stories, and teachers will need to devote more class time to allow students to finish their stories.
Mary takes students through an exercise to develop the characters of the villain and the sleuth; next Mary shows them how to establish a “want” for each character that will become the driving force for both the voice and the plot; Mary leads students in an improvisational exercise to develop scenes. Mary will give tips for how to complete their stories, and students will either need to do this on their own or teachers will need to devote more class time to writing the stories.
Students read folktales and variations of folktales and learn how writers can write their own variations by choosing a new setting and characters to match that setting. In this residency, Mary helps students to pre-write, write, and perform a folktale adaptation.
Follow-up visits can be very helpful for students and teachers. They can focus on revision and or performance. These sessions can be done immediately following the initial workshop or can be scheduled for a week or two after Mary’s initial visit. In the revision session, Mary will discuss revision and give revision tips. She will invite students to read their work, give on-the-spot feedback, and teach/model how to give/take feedback. In the performance follow-up, Mary teaches students how to use vocal expression to read their work aloud. Theater exercises are followed by reading and recording. If class sizes are large, not all students will be able to read their entire work; however, teachers and students will benefit from hearing how Mary responds to the work that is shared.
Sample Itinerary for 4th Grade Poetry Residency with Follow Up
9-9:45 am Teacher A Writing Workshop
10-10:45 Teacher B Writing Workshop
12-12:45 Teacher C Writing Workshop
1-1:45 Teacher D Writing Workshop
9-9:45 am Teacher A Revision Workshop
10-10:45 Teacher B Revision Workshop
12-12:45 Teacher C Revision Workshop
1-1:45 Teacher D Revision Workshop
9-9:45 am Teacher A Performance Workshop
10-10:45 Teacher B Performance Workshop
12-12:45 Teacher C Performance Workshop
1-1:45 Teacher D Performance Workshop
If you are holding the residency as part of a book fair, fundraiser, or literary celebration and would like to offer Mary’s books for sale, Mary would be happy to attend an evening event, autograph books, speak to parents about the residency, and/or host an “open mic” for students who would like to share their work.
Example of past residencies:
Songwriting at Holton