Recently, I wrote about Mrs. Victorian’s 1st grade class and how they were using authors as mentors during writing workshop. This week, I was invited to a writing celebration for the pieces they published in that unit. It was so much fun to see the kids beam with pride for their hard work! There are many ways to celebrate the writing that students publish. In our school, students publish their writing at least once a month, so I encourage teachers to think of small ways to honor big work. It doesn’t need to be a party to be special. Students just want their writing to be seen and/or heard. Celebrations give them an audience. What better way to show them the importance of writing for the reader?
For a buddy share celebration, consider inviting another class in the building to your celebration. This seems especially powerful when a different grade level is invited. Young students love to show off to their older peers, and older students don’t have to worry about “perfect” writing when they are sharing with a younger buddy. Students can make an invitation to send over to build excitement with both groups. To prepare, have each student take their published piece and find a spot in the room to sit. (Because you will have double the number of students in the room, it’s helpful to have them spread out.) When the invited class arrives, pair each student with one of the writers in your class and have them join them in their special spot. Then, invite each author to read their writing aloud to their buddy using their best reader’s voice. This is a perfect time for both teachers to move around the room and give the invited guests tips on compliments to give or questions to ask.
The gallery-style celebration works especially well for older students, but I’ve seen it done in classes as young as 1st grade. In this celebration, the classroom is transformed into a writing museum, and each student creates a gallery space for their published piece on their desk/table. The students then move around the museum, reading each piece and leaving compliments on sticky notes. By the time each student returns to their seat, their writing is covered in compliments from their peers! The teacher could also leave compliments during this time, or you can focus your time on reminding the students about how to give meaningful compliments.
Mrs. Victorian’s class celebrated their writing by creating a stage in their classroom, complete with a spotlight (from the projector) and a working microphone! The kids took turns standing and reading their pieces to the class, and many of them had to work to contain their giggles of excitement. It was a simple setup, but there was so much meaning for the kids, and they were a captive audience for each one of their friends.
Some of the grade levels at my school have a letter writing unit. Depending on the grade, they learn how to write friendly letters, persuasive letters, or formal letters. This year, the 2nd graders celebrated their published letters by sending them to pen pals all across the country! They have received letters and are already trying to find time to respond. What a powerful message about audience and purpose!
How do you celebrate the authors in your classroom? Leave a comment below!