Hey cHEwY gum gums!
I’ve had a flurry of Zoom Writing Workshops over the last 2 weeks and it’s been an huge learning experience. Some things remain the same. There are the same bunch of students who want to share all the time, while others are shy (even more so since you’ll never know what they’re doing). But there are some cool things and tools up your virtual sleeve to make them just as fun as in-person workshops.
LAY DOWN THE GROUND RULES AND EXPECTATIONS
While there are ZOOM veterans who know when to mute and how to use the hand symbols, you have to assume that there some kids who don’t know/need to be reminded.
So like a safety announcement before a flight, spend a minute going through etiquette. Rules like leave your mic on mute until you have to speak, or raise your hand to ask a question or to share something. I like students to ask me questions throughout the session, you might want them at the very end. It lets you be a teacher for a second, and lay down some authority hehe.
Bonus tip: Make your teachers co-hosts
If there are any teachers in your workshop, let them be co-hosts so they can admit any late-comers and deal with any disruptive behaviour.
One advantage of Zoom is that you can show more than just a mere powerpoint. You can show them images, charts, videos, sounds, even your own manuscript. I also like to show them my website and YouTube Channel as a shameless plug haha. It just breaks up the whole ‘talking head’ flow of the workshop.
ENGAGE STUDENTS WITH POLLING AND CONSTANT QUESTIONING
Polling is a great way to gauge students interest in your content. You can be as creative as you’d like. Have a quiz about writing or your books. Do a live ‘Choose your own adventure’ scenario. If you can be spontaneous with your questions and polling, it may draw some great responses from your students.
KEEP YOUR TONE RELAXED AND CONVERSATIONAL LIKE A IT’S A PODCAST
I noticed that a lot of kids had their earphones on, so there’s no point barking orders like a teacher. Instead, I just kept on talking like it was a podcast or talk-back radio program. Performing from home means you can be a little more informal and relaxed with students, regardless if they’re at home or in a classroom. It also helps you build some rapport. You’d quite surprised how many kids just wanna chat as they write.
HAVE SOMETHING TO FOLLOW UP
The best kind of writing tasks are the ones that students can continue to work on, even more so in a remote-learning setting. I would recommend giving the teachers a list of tasks so they can follow them up with students afterwards. There will always be students who need to catch up. Teachers may ask for your power-point presentation or to record the session, so find a method that suits you best.
It’ll take me some time to find my groove, so expect some more thoughts and advice in a future blog post 🙂
Does anybody else have any virtual writing workshop tips?