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Student-led writing workshop benefits fledgling writers and "seasoned" coaches.

It's often that the need for instruction and guidance in academic pursuits extends beyond the limits of the classroom, the timeline of a school day or the abilities of a teacher. Knowing this, Edina Public Schools (Minnesota) have introduced the Writing Center, a collaborative student-focused writing workshop where ninthgraders hone their skills and pass them along to middlegrade students who want to work on their compositions.

According to the West Metro Star Tribune, the older "coaches" are there to help schools reach state standards for student capability in writing skills while passing along their own growing expertise to fledgling writers.

"A core belief of ours is students need feedback on their writing to grow as writers," said Writing Center founder and South View Middle School English teacher Tess Bade-man. "The writing conference is definitely a powerful tool to give kids feedback--far more powerful than writing comments on their paper."

In the Writing Center's first months, parents and teachers served as coaches, but the students preferred to work on their writing projects with peers. The center is now "powered by the relationships between the middle-school students and their coaches."

Bademan explained to the paper that the comfort level the students had with one another "allowed them to collaborate in a more meaningful way."

Roping the coaches in didn't make for much of a challenge either.

"I really like to write," said freshman Emily Kompelien, "and I was here before when I was younger and thought it was really cool. ... I thought it was good to get feedback on my work."

Others had to be nudged, but plenty volunteered.

"Most of them are here because they really want to get behind the cause of good writing, and to support other students in their building," Bademan said.

Coaches receive instruction each year before they begin working with students regarding policies and protocols.

The program has shown to be mutually beneficial for the coaches and the younger students, from both an academic and a personal perspective. While sharing and helping skills to blossom, the students are developing interpersonal relationships they previously may not have had access to.

Source:, 10/14/14

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Title Annotation:GRADES 6-12
Publication:Curriculum Review
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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