Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wandering through a Workshop

Lately I have been helping out at the Sussex Corner Elementary School's breakfast program.  This is a great program that provides kids whose parents can't currently provide them with breakfast.  I feel blessed to help out with this program.  While there, I was approached by a staff person from the District and she asked if I'd be interested in providing a writing workshop to two middle school groups.  I jumped at the chance to expand my skill set and writing portfolio.

Last summer I provided a workshop to a small group of adults and felt pretty good about what I had presented.  I edited this past material to suit the younger crowd and to meet the time requirements I had.  The night before the workshops I got really nervous and began to question my own ability.  When I awoke in the morning I had a good breakfast and once I stepped into the Sussex Middle School library I was ready or I was hoping I was ready.

The day went off without a hitch and I was able to take 15 boys from Sussex Middle School out around the trail and along Trout Creek.  This followed the brief 1/2hour presentation I gave and in which I was surprised at how well behaved the boys were.  They enjoyed the opportunity to get outside and listened intently as I gave them my perspective on how I observe and write about nature.  I encouraged them to use all five of their senses and take in the smells, the sounds, the colors, textures, and tastes and to mentally note how they feel.

When we returned to the classroom we gave the boys some time to write a piece that I would review.  It was amazing to me to watch the majority of these boys sit and focus on writing.  It was more amazing to read some of what they wrote.  One young man wrote from the perspective of the black capped chickadee that we observed and he was incredibly detailed in the descriptions he provided from that view point.  When I did the same exercise for the kids in Belleisle, I was again impressed with the material the boys created.  I dare say that one student there was more intellectual than I was and wrote poetically about our short trip up a hill and through a spruce stand.  Another boy wrote a spine tingling piece about a "stalking crow" that had me feeling a mix of emotions that was both awe of the setting and fear of what was to come.

It was rewarding for me to put on these workshops.  It was encouraging to see the material these young men wrote and while I don't think I had a big role in that, I am hopeful that through my influence they will continue to write and embrace that skill.
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