Working with youth and middle school

Tomorrow morning, or more specifically on the 9th of February, I begin a new writing workshop with a new age group. Last week, I went into the library to “sell” the workshop and I got my first introduction to my potential writing group of 12 to 14 year olds. I think I sold the workshop pretty well, since they kept asking me so many questions. I have a good feeling about this group. All my groups have been great, but not since my elderly writing group have I worked with people who truly wanted to write and be writers, and I have a feeling these kids are all about it. Plus they are all cute as hell.

Anyway, as I had mentioned in the previous post I am posting a few of my exercises I used in my earlier workshop with homeless youth. As I had mentioned before this workshop was a bit different from other Write Around Portland workshops. Most workshops are 8 to 10 weeks, once a week for two hours, these workshops were for two and a half hours for three days. One of the three days we went to watch the Portland center stage’s production of Snow Falling On Cedars. I attempted to create the exercises around the themes in the play but this was not always easy as not every person in the workshop attended the play and vice versa.

One nice ice breaker is to do the storytelling or exquisite corpse exercise but these didn’t work well with these groups so I’ll skip the details, although I think I have written about the exquisite corpse in a earlier post and I will link that up if I find it.  By far what I find works the best with all groups (so far) is the photo exercise. You gather photos and place them on the table ask the students to pick a photo that attracts them and then ask them to write from the perspective of the person in the photo. Depending on what you want the group to get out of the workshop you can be more specific, like write from first person, or third person, or place yourself in the setting, et. Since write around portland is fairly loose of direction and more focused on allowing the writer to explore, I kept it open. I also tell the students that they are welcome to write whatever they want if the prompt or exercise doesn’t work for them, all that matters is that they write.

We also did an exercise called, Dear Pillow: This is where you have the student write to someone they may have never thought of writing too, like a celebrity, politician, family, people living or dead, strangers whomever. This was a very powerful writing for the homeless youth as you can imagine they have people they would like to reach. It was moving to listen to these kids write letters to Obama, Palin, a stranger, just honesty reaching out into the world as if those people could really hear what they had to say.

I have been chronically tired. It is getting aggravating. I have so many projects I want to work on and yet I can’t seem to physically motivate myself to work. It is work to get out of bed! The freaky thing is that I have been sleeping, but my energy level is incredibly low. I even exercise. All this dither means I can’t write on this post any longer tonight. It’s long enough as it is, right.


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