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How To Get Started With The Progress Share

One of the central tenents of writing workshop is the belief that all students will make progress when you teach them how to write. As workshop teachers, we understand the importance of valuing their progress over their product. This is why I’m both delighted and astonished when I see bulletin boards full of work that’s unique from piece to piece. This is what we hope for!

The progress share allows us to slow down and celebrate all that our students are doing and the many ways they’re making progress as writers.

An important book we revisit often is, Don’t Forget to Share, by Leah Mermelstein. Inside the book, Leah covers four types of shares — the content share, craft share, progress share, and the process share.

This article is going to dive deep into the progress share.

The Progress Share — What Is It?

A progress share is a share where the conversation is based on everyone’s progress or one student’s progress.

You might start with a question like this when addressing everyone’s progress:

  • How has your writing improved in this unit of study?

Or… A prompt like this when addressing an individual student’s progress:

  • Today we’re going to talk about [student name]’s progress.

Before we get into this helpful practice, let’s first cover some logistics.

Time: In the book, you’ll learn that this share or “share conversation” needs 10-15 minutes. Keep in mind that this is different from what you’ve learned about teaching shares. Maybe you’ve heard that you should give it 2-5 minutes so you can have a quick closure at the end of the workshop. I think you’ll enjoy the idea of a 10-15 minute share conversation and give it a try!

Here are some tips to get started so you can get value out of this important part of the workshop:

  • set a timer
  • ask a student to remind you
  • include it in your plan book

Room Arrangement: The book suggests the kids return to the gathering or meeting area and sit in a circle to spark a conversation.

Set-Up: For this type of share, you’ll want to decide if you’re addressing one student’s progress as a way to inspire and propel the entire class forward or if you want each individual student to reflect on their progress. The student who’s sharing should bring their work with them to the discussion circle.

Steps to a Successful Progress Share:

  1. After gathering the students in a circle, either pose a question regarding one student’s progress or everybody’s progress.
  2. The teacher says something like, “How has your writing improved in this unit of study?” Or, “Today we’re going to talk about ______________’s progress.” Then name what you noticed the student doing particularly well (for example: writing for the entire writing workshop duration and getting a lot down on the page).
  3. The student will then talk about what they did to make this progress (that the teacher is celebrating).
  4. Students can then give compliments to the featured writer.
  5. When something comes up like, “I get a lot done when I’m in a quiet space with no distractions,” kids discuss this idea with partners to think about how it might benefit them as well.
  6. If you like, you could even develop a chart that includes these ideas and strategies so kids can revisit them later. In this case, it could be: finding a quiet space where no one will bother you and keeping your pen moving the whole writing time.
  7. You can also develop a list of future teaching ideas that came out of this conversation.
    1. Writers have special writing spots that help them write a lot every day.
    2. Writers notice if other people are distracting them. If so, they ask for a quiet space.
    3. Writers help themselves write a lot by doing the best they can when they get to hard parts.

The best times for a progress share:

Here are some optimal times for a progress share:

  • At the end of a unit of study. It might even be a part of your writing celebration. Students can talk about the progress they’ve made and set new goals for the new unit of study.
  • When a breakthrough occurs. This can be a great time to shine the spotlight on a writer who isn’t usually celebrated. 

Which kids benefit the most from a progress share? 

There will be very few students who won’t want to take part in a progress share. It will especially benefit English language learners and writers who are capable of doing the mini-lesson but don’t.

Possible Progress Share Ideas

Progress Shares That Are Focused On One Student

  • Let’s celebrate that you have written words that you know.
  • Let’s celebrate that others can read your writing.
  • Let’s celebrate that you wrote the entire time.
  • Let’s celebrate that you stuck with one writing piece for several days.
  • Let’s celebrate that you tried a new writing topic.

Progress Shares That Are Focused on All Students

  • How has your writing improved during the ____________ unit of study?
  • In what ways do you work more independently now than you did at the start of the year?
  • How has your writer’s notebook or writing folder changed over the last few months?  Are you using it in wiser ways?

We think you’re going to make some fascinating discoveries with these deeper conversations inside the progress share. If you have questions about implementing this or need some support getting started, get in touch! 

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