All writers, whether the best-selling author who is having difficulty developing characters for her current novel, or the celebrity blogger interested in building suspense for his latest leak, seek feedback about their writing. During the writing process, writers want to know if they have chosen the correct words or phrases in a speech to invoke an emotional reaction from their reader, or if their wording has been precise enough to explain the facts of a historical event. Most importantly, good writers rely on the writing community, whether it is their editor, friends, or other writers, to help convey their intended message to their audience.
As a language arts teacher, I feel that collaboration in writing is often largely absent in the general classroom. While students may engage in meaningful discussions about their writing during student/teacher conferences in Writer's Workshop, there are usually few opportunities for authentic conversation about writing with their peers. Student writing may show application of the traits and concepts taught during mini-lessons, but the classroom teacher may wonder if his or her students are able to generalize these skills outside of their own writing. Can students identify voice in a persuasive essay? Can they recognize places where a text could use language that is more descriptive in poetry? Can they make important suggestions that would improve the quality of a narrative? Moreover, can they reason the choices and decisions made in their own writing and offer a rational explanation as to how these choices affected their piece?
Thus, the Author's Circle was introduced as a key component of my Writer's Workshop to give students the opportunity to work collaboratively and have those critical discussions about the elements of good writing. I have used Author's Circles during my language arts block as a 5th grade classroom teacher as well with 6th grade students in my Reading Support Strategies classroom. With the brightest students, or even those that are experiencing the most challenges with their writing, the Author's Circle provides a meaningful addition to the writing process whereby students can apply their knowledge of the six traits of writing as well as get feedback from the community of writers.
Inlcuded you get:
* An overview of Author's Circles and sample schedule
* 6 Author's Circle Task sheets which correlate to the 6 + 1 Traits of writing, as well as IL and Common Core standards
* Grading Rubric