Show, Don’t Tell


In addition to Kate giving me a new book for my birthday, all my writing project leadership team friends had a small, rich, adult cake for me from Bijan Bakery.  Then we talked and jotted notes, trying to say what it is we are doing in this year’s Saturday Seminars that is a big switch from previous years.  Our website just doesn’t match the comments the participants give us or the feedback from students…

We were trying to say that we made the switch to having the student writers meet in the same sessions with the teachers so that everyone could experience a writing workshop.  The idea was driven by wanting to show, not tell teachers what the qualities of workshop are.  We wanted teachers to not just see a leader give a minilesson or give a conference, but also for the teachers to get to talk about what they saw and try it out themselves with small groups of the quite willing student writers.  The students got more attention and the teachers got so much feedback from interacting with the students.

But how do we say it?  Show it? How do we tell teachers that the reason they want to get up on Saturday a.m. and come over to SJSU is that they will get a brief in the lessons designed for the morning’s workshop, then they’ll see the lead teacher present the lesson, try out the writing along with the students, and then they will practice giving a mini lesson and/or confer with their small group of students.  After the students go home, the teachers meet again to debrief about what they saw, what they wondered, what they would take back with them.

I could go with pictures – several photos with captions, but we tried to write an introduction. I did get some nice shots of teachers and students. And I think that selecting from the generous comments participants made will help show the story.  Teachers not just learning from other teachers, but from students and students learning from multiple teachers and each other in a warm, workshop setting.  What’s not to love about a Saturday morning like that?



5 thoughts on “Show, Don’t Tell”

  1. Suggestion: Put more emphasis on the “connecting” which is so important, and less on the structure of the workshop which could sound exhausting for a Saturday morning. Focus on the real need for students to see their teachers in a different light, as well as themselves.

    1. Spot on. The students are delighted to see teachers writing (who knew?) and teachers are impressed with how thoughtful and inventive the students are.

  2. I agree w/ Barbara. Also, why not put those pictures into a book template or frame w/ the comments you reference embedded into the pages so that you tell a story about the workshop. Can you make an Animoto video?

    1. Using a book template is an excellent idea. Wonder if it can post directly on our website?
      I will check out what an Animoto Video is. Sounds intriguing.

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