Reflections on Facilitation of a Summer Youth Writing Program

WMWP Summer Youth Writing Program 2020: Interactive Fiction

Some observations and reflections 

https://sites.google.com/view/interactivefiction/home 

Positives of shift to online

  • Youth participants were all ready to write every day (opting in to a writing program)
  • No geographic limitations for participation (one from China, with connection to local school)
  • Opportunity for guest presenters (National Park Service Ranger Scott Gausen did a presentation on NPS that led into writing activity)
  • Technology possibilities (different sites, platforms, collaboration, etc.)
  • Combination of (offline) writing notebooks, Zoom chat, and other sites (and media)
  • Mentor texts and tutorials seemed most helpful
  • Lots of Icebreaker activities 
  • The theme of the program (Interactive Fiction) took advantage of technology and distance situation (lots of room for supported, but independent work)
  • Regular email messaging (short information daily) with parents and youth writers together was seen as appreciated by families

Challenges of shift to online

  • Not knowing kids beforehand, meeting only via video, was odd
  • Technological hurdles (nothing we could not overcome) — but mobile vs computer, access/sharing links to sites, slow Internet speeds, helping a student work through an issue from afar (zoom), protected school Chromebooks, etc.
  • Creating the right pacing (over-prepare) of writing activities
  • Hard to read the Zoom room (some kept video off, for Internet reasons, or from typical camp shyness)
  • Two hours each day seemed a lot (even with breaks and offline writing)

What I’d Do Different

  • More use of Break Out Rooms for small group (or individual conferencing)
  • More use of daily Exit Slips to get a sense of my pacing (too fast/too slow/just right)
  • How to better encourage sharing of writing with people you don’t know
  • Ask for student emails (with parent permission) during registration process to make setting up programs/sites easier
  • Mail something (prompt or maybe even a Flat Stanley-ish thing) to each person beforehand with a fun activity to bring in on day one

Typical Day Format

  • Icebreaker/Brainstorming activity
  • Writing into the Day (prompts) and sharing
  • Technology Lesson
  • Playing around time with Tech
  • Break
  • Focus on a larger project (writing process)
  • Sharing
  • Writing out of the Day (if time)

Peace (reflecting to remember),
Kevin

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