This Unit was constructed to serve a dual purpose. Its primary goal is to introduce upper-elementary and middle school students to the process of writing utilizing the “Writing Workshop Approach.”
The writing workshop is based on the assumption that a “workshop” is an environment where craftspeople are actively engaged in creating, exploring, and manipulating materials or ideals for the sake of artistic expression. The leader of the workshop is to serve as a guide or resource-motivator to a small group or individuals within this community.
It is very important to remember that each workshop group member is an individual with different limitations, skills, and beliefs. Each activity constructed will be unique and at different stages of completion.
In order to accommodate this type of setting, it is advantageous to have a risk-free environment with many opportunities for the individual artist to share his or her works that are in progress. There is also a need to develop responsibility and nurture the quality of maturity in group members to assure that they can work independently.
In this setting the writers will be given the freedom to explore and investigate topics that interest them. They will have total autonomy to select themes to write about. In this way their writings will become therapeutic. This type of forum will encourage self examination and open the door to inner reflections of beliefs and morals.
This approach does not restrict the participant to an assigned physical area; therefore, there is the need for mobility. The classroom must be designed with this fact in mind. The use of “centers” would be an asset for this type of space setup.
There must be resource materials in designated places and instructional-visual aids to help the learner solve problems independently. The media center(library) and its personnel must perform an integral part in the dispersal of needed information. The writer must have unlimited access to the media center and be exposed to the way of using technology(internet) to gather information.
In this Unit the basic tenets of a “workshop” will be implemented as stated in the previous paragraphs. There will be many examples of how to set up the environment that is conducive for this stye of learning to take place.
The Unit will contain classroom diagrams and other visual aids to help the user of the unit setup his/her classroom. There will be models of learning centers and the materials needed in them to make them effective.
This Unit will provide students with the opportunity to apply academic and social skills. It will address a student’s proficiencies, stress intrinsic motivation, and encourage students to determine what they want to work on. The students will potentially become experts about their needs. The lessons will be student driven which means that there will be minimal teacher lecturing. Due to this fact, “mini-lessons” geared to students deficiencies will be suggested.
The Unit will look at different assessment tools to develop these mini-lessons. There will be a great deal of emphasis on portfolio assessment.
The Unit will provide examples of how to incorporate sharing among students. There will be a section devoted to student-teacher and student-student conferencing. The Unit will also provide suggestions on whole class sharing (Author’s Chair).
The lessons in the Unit will have social development activities in them to assure that students have the necessary skills to handle independent and small group assignments. The P.Q.S.(Praise, Question, and Suggestion) system will be discussed.
The second aspect of this Unit is to introduce inner-city students especially males to the great literary works about African, African- American, and Hispanic(Latino) males.
It is imperative that young students in an urban setting be exposed to positive characters in all genres of written art In “Pop” culture there are to many negative images of men of color. I n this Unit there will be an attempt to explore the myths and reality of men of color. The lessons will make the students look at the many aspects that led to the one dimensional and grotesque figures in many characterizations of men of color.
One of the main thrust of this Unit is to get young male students to examine their past and write about their future. The male students this Unit is targeted for are the ones growing up in a hostile and unsupportive community. The young men who feel helpless, but wear the deceptive armor of strength. The ones who have been conditioned to believe that conviction, morality, truthfulness, and honesty are signs of weakness. The boys who think they are men based on their biological makeup with no regard to their mental development. The ones who are growing up in a matriarchal sub- system, but unconsciously do not value women.
This Unit will explore the the possibility of using writing as a form of therapy to expose these boys to the inner and outer destructive forces that are threatening their existence.
This Unit will take on the task of giving all students a voice. It will challenge their belief systems about the world around them. It will give them a forum to express themselves in a creative and less destructive way. It will eventually give them the security they need to form a new community, the “community of writers.”
The following suggested themes could be use to enhance this Unit by the user:
*The Triangle trade and the brotherhood of Hispanic and African males.
*Black Exploitative films of the 70’s and 90’s.
*The external coercive forces that cause the breakup of the family.
*The church loss of control and influence with the youth.
*Vietnam War and Civil Disobedience connection with drug epidemic.
*Abortion is not an alternative in our community.
*The right to bear arms.
*Lynching and its connection to the worth of life of a minority male.
*Is the only way out suicide?
*The “street” as Daddy.
*The sports conspiracy.
*Picking cotton or sling’en cane(cocain) is there a difference.
*The Minority women Madonna or Bitch?
*The jail culture.
*Materialism and its poisonous expression.
*Islam vs. Christianity is there a viable choice?
*Media creation of minority leaders.