Bringing Brave Writer to Your Co-op!
Are you interested in using Brave Writer materials in a co-op setting? Here’s how to apply what you’ve gained through Brave Writer to a larger context.
First the legal stuff
- You may use The Writer’s Jungle in a co-op setting. Please feel free to follow the exercises at the end of the chapters and to apply them to your classes. If you need to Xerox the directions to the Keen Observation or the Freewriting exercises, be my guest. The copyright limitation applies to reproducing entire chapters or the entire book. If you need to duplicate an exercise or some directions, by all means go ahead.
- You may use dictation passages, writing prompts, and exercises from the language arts programs (including the back issues of the Arrow or Boomerang) in a co-op setting. Use the issues to introduce the ideas, and teach them; draw straight from the issues themselves to help you bring literary elements, writing and literature to life. I ask, however, that if you plan to have your students use the dictation passages or to learn about the literary elements outside of class primarily as homework, that you encourage the mothers to subscribe to the program through Brave Writer. I teach at a co-op and do the same thing with my students.
- To sum up: I want you to feel free to use the resources you have purchased for your teaching. If, however, the work you want your students to do goes beyond the class (they are to read entire chapters in the Writer’s Jungle or do the dictation and follow the instructions in the language arts programs at home), then it is fair to ask them to purchase the materials themselves rather than using yours.
Now the fun stuff
- Do not write on the first day. Kids often dread the first day of writing class so shock them. Play a game. For junior and senior high kids, we often play “Catch Phrase” to warm up to each other. With younger kids, you can play a game like “Guesstures” (a kind of charades game). And of course, the Communication Game in Chapter 2 of The Writer’s Jungle is also a great way to start. I often do the Communication Game in demonstration format with two kids in front of the room, first. On the first day: play with words, don’t write words.
- Balance activities and writing process. It’s important to keep kids involved in experiences when teaching writing. The tendency is to focus on how writing should be rather than stimulating ideas, thoughts, observations and experiences. Going on a nature walk together, tasting a new food, looking at a painting, cutting words out of a magazine just to collect a bunch of cool words – these are ways to get your kids into life so that when you then go to writing, they have something to say, something to draw on.
- Change the writing posture. Sitting at a desk facing forward with feet on the floor holding a yellow number 2 pencil kills the inspiration of many a good writer. Surprise your students by taking the writing outside or suggesting they sit on the floor, or bring in some bean bag chairs or supply them with colored pens and pencils. These may seem like gimmicks, but the truth is, writing thrives when inspiration is felt. And for some reason, a new posture or colorful pens help kids. (As do brownies… but they are messy.)