Sunday, September 27, 2009

Composing Workshop

Franki's post, "How Did They Make That," has gotten several interesting comments. In the post, she tells about her students deconstructing the Scholastic Book Fair video, not in terms of content, as she expected, but in terms of how it might possibly have been made.

One responder declared the video a marketing failure because the students looked beyond the content. Others agreed with Franki's positive take on her students' point of view.

But the comment I want to respond to today, in light of the hour I just spent working in iMovie and GarageBand making a video I could upload to YouTube so that I can share some huggable puppies with my friends, is from takini8:
"I think this generation are creators and producers. They are moving beyond the viewing that I did as a child. I watched videos and enjoyed them, they view critically and with an eye to creating. I think that's because they can create and publish so easily. I think its a really exciting perspective and look forward to what they do in the future. My problem is what to call writing today. I originally started calling writing workshop, author workshop, because I was focusing on authoring but now... what do you call it when they are blogging, creating photo essays and music videos? It's so much more than authoring."
What do I call Writing Workshop now? I call it Composing Workshop.

It's that time in the day when we use a creative design process to make things we want to share with an audience for some purpose.

We get an idea, try it out, tweak it until we get it just right, look at it through as many lenses as we can, then share it out with an audience.

It might be paper and pencil, word processing, a music composition, a comic, a movie with narration or a sound track, a photo essay, or (insert project here).

Yes, there are times when my students attend to the genres of paper-pencil composing required by our district and the State Standards. But once my students have a firm traditional grasp on the standards as defined by the state, they are encouraged to work with the standards/genres in the media of their choice.

Another message I hope to be communicating with my "composing workshop" is that the processes and skills that my students are learning are not to be used solely within the walls of school. My students, too, can have a personal composing workshop on a rainy Sunday morning sitting at their very own kitchen table during which they put aside all their other work/chores to make a video and compose the music for its soundtrack.

And now, because I know you're dying to see it, here is the puppy video I made this morning:


  1. Ana would now like one of these puppies!

  2. I've begun calling mine the Creation Station. While we will continue to write, we're using our writing to create pieces for different audiences. When we began the wiki this year, I asked my students if they thought this was writing and they said no, just reading and talking. Once they realized that they compose a thought, write it, edit/revise to their liking, and then publish on the web, it was an "AHA" moment. So many possibilities!

  3. I enjoyed this post. I enjoyed what Franki wrote about her students the other day. I found the conversation that started an interesting on. I believe it was a teachable moment. I love opportunities like that. I also find what you have done with writer's workshop interesting. I agree that it is important to cover district standards. I think giving children as much choice as possible is important, as well. This is just another way to give our students choice. What a great way to have an opportunity to incorporate tech into the classroom, as well.

  4. I like the idea of calling it composing workshop. I think calling it as such would give students their own permission to think beyond paper pencil. Recently, during writing workshop my students were exploring with flip video. The idea's they were coming up with about how they might use it were amazing. My only response to them was "Go for it...anything is possible during writing workshop."

  5. I like that idea, "Composing Workshop!" I also like the pups video!!! :)

  6. I'm fascinated by the idea of a composing workshop. I watch my boys spend hours on end drafting and revising and editing songs on Garage Band. Their process reminds me of what I do when I write. At the same time, they rarely, if ever, apply these skills to their writing. Hmmm.
    I love the puppies too. I want to learn to do some of the fancy stuff you do!

  7. I love the value you have placed on the creating, thinking and communicating in your workshop! Perhaps we are growing a new generation that will proclaim, "I love to write!"


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