The Craft Share — What It Is and How to Do It

Inside the book, Don’t Forget to Share! we learn about the four types of teaching shares — the content share, the craft share, the process share, and the progress share.

In this article, we’re going to focus on the craft share.

The Craft Share — What It Is

A craft share is a share where you work with students on writing craft techniques.

Before we get into this valuable practice, let’s sort out the logistics.

Time: In the book, you’ll discover that this teaching share or “share conversation” needs 10-15 minutes. This may be different from what you’ve learned about teaching shares. Many of us have been telling you to give it 2-5 minutes so that you have a quick closure at the end of the workshop. I think you’ll find the idea of a 10-15 minute share conversation compelling enough to try it yourself.

Here are some simple tips to make sure you have plenty of time to get value out of this important part of the workshop:

  • set a timer
  • get a student to remind you
  • put it in your plan book

Room Arrangement: Leah, the author of the book, also suggests the kids come back to the gathering or meeting area and sit around in a circle to create a conversation.

Set-Up: For this type of share, you’ll need 1-3 students. Before they come up to share, Make sure you check with them to see if they’re comfortable. If they seem hesitant, you can offer to read their writing for them.

Steps to a Craft Share:

  1. Choose 1-2 students to share a craft technique they’ve tried in their writing.
  2. All kids reread their work at the gathering area, imagining using this craft technique in their writing pieces or rehearsing how it might sound in a new piece.
  3. Writers share with partners where they would use this craft technique and how it would sound. Then share a few all together as a group, so kids hear more examples of this craft technique.
  4. If you have an extra minute or two, give students a few minutes at the gathering area to try the craft technique to help them remember.

When should you do a craft share? 

There are a few times that work really well for a craft share. The best times to do this type of share are:

  • During immersion (the first week of a new unit).
  • When students don’t have many craft ideas.
  • After teaching a craft technique in a mini-lesson or conference.

Which kids benefit the most from a craft share? 

We love the craft share because it’s helpful for all students. It will help students find ways to lift the level of their writing work. Kids who will benefit the most are the ones who have a tough time getting started and English language learners.

Here’s a transcript of a craft share I led with some sixth graders:

Me: “Today, we’re going to do a craft share session. In this craft share session, we’re trying to notice craft techniques that certain writers are using to inspire us as writers to try some of those techniques. Today I had a chance to talk to Jonathan, and I wanted him to share. He was writing a personal narrative writing piece during this immersion week of writing. I wanted him to share the beginning part of his writing so we can notice what he is doing as a writer to see if that might inspire us as writers to try something similar.”

Jonathan: Begins reading… “Wake up! Wake up!” As I opened one eye, I see my brother looking at me with his face all excited. As I open two eyes I see all my cousins sitting in my room. “ What are you guys doing here?”

Me: I stop him from reading on. “Can you turn to the person next to you and tell them what you notice about his lead or hook in his personal narrative?”

Kids turn to partners on the carpet to share what they noticed.

Me: Okay, back together everyone, “So what did he use at the very beginning of his writing?”

Several kids say, “Dialogue!”

Me: “How many of you already know about dialogue?”

 

Many kids raise their hands.

Me: “He used it at the very beginning of his writing. Today as I was walking around, I did not see many people starting their pieces with dialogue. I thought it was such a great way to capture the reader’s attention — to start a personal narrative with dialogue.

So right now, we’re going to take a minute. Can you turn to the next page of your writing, put the date on it, and I want you to get an idea for a personal narrative story you could write? Anything that happened… It could be something that happened to you over winter break, or it could be something that happened to you when you were little. Any memory that you’ve got. Picture it clearly in your mind.

I close my eyes to model how you would close your eyes to do this. And think about who was talking at the beginning of the story and just write that dialogue at the beginning. As soon as you’ve got it, just go start writing it.“ Kids start this work right at the gathering area while sitting in the circle. I give them a few minutes to work on it. Then I give a little voice over to the students (since they are sixth graders and they’ve been learning how to use dialogue since kindergarten or first grade). 

I also noticed in his dialogue that he told us what was being said, but he also told us the action to describe what the character was doing. Read it one more time, Jonathan.”

He reads it once more. He’s telling you what is being said. Jonathan, who’s the person saying, “Wake up! Wake up?”

Jonathan: “My brother.”

Me: I revise his dialogue slightly and say it aloud. “Wake up, wake up! My brother said, as my eyes popped open.” “Can’t you picture him- you can picture his brother shouting at him, and you can also picture that he’s like (I make a startled face)? If you want to, you can even try that. Put the dialogue in and also tell what the character is doing. That’s an even higher level than just putting the dialogue in.” I give another example. “Good morning, Mrs. So and So said, as she turned around to write the agenda for the day on the chalkboard. You can picture that much better. Give me a thumbs up when you’re done.”

All the kids have a few minutes to try it.

Me: “Do I have any volunteers to share their new hooks for their personal narratives?” The room gets quiet. “Will you share it with your partners?” Just as I’m about to have them turn and talk, the boy next to me volunteers. “Oh, you’ll share — go ahead.”

Tommy: Starts reading his writing. “Aahhhh… I yelled as I buckled my seatbelt tight.”

Me: “That was you talking? Ahhhhh…You screamed?”

Tommy: “Yes, I was on a high ride and I was scared and I thought was gonna die.”

Me: “You can even add that. I thought to myself. Any others?” No one volunteers, so I decided to let them share with a partner. “Okay, then can you share with the partner next to you?”

I move around to listen to a partnership. “Okay, great, so now do you have an idea for a personal narrative story you could start writing? If you feel like whatever you started today — you’re not that excited about or maybe when you finish it, you have the next idea ready.”

I do this again with another student named Damien who has created a quick list of story ideas before he jumps in to write. 

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

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