Although it’s always a good thing for children to share their writing with an audience, it can sometimes be challenging as well. Some children are not yet blessed with good presentation skills or loud voices, and they often stumble over their own writing. It’s easy to see why the students in the audience—even those who are trying really hard to listen—can sometimes find it hard to remain focused. With that in mind, here are some different ways for students to present their work to the rest of the class.
This is basically the equivalent of an on-deck circle in baseball; I’ve used this trick for close to a decade now, and it really works! Instead of one student presenting his/her work, I always have two at a time—one standing and one sitting. The non-reading, sitting student is there to “support” the standing student. This reduces some of the nervousness of the student reading, since she isn’t all by herself, and it gives the sitting student some time to warm up to the idea of reading to the class before doing it. In short, you get better presentations!
Journal Musical Chairs
Okay, there’s no actual music involved, but there could be! This is good for when you want students to receive some positive feedback for their writing. It works best if your desks are arranged in two long, banquet-style tables, but you can play around with it and see what works best for you.
To begin, students hand their journals to the person opposite them. They have two minutes (adjust for grade level) to read the journal prompt for that day. After that, I give them 30 seconds each to share some positive feedback about what they just read. (My journal prompts are usually based upon a specific skill, so I might ask them to comment upon how the writer used this in his/her journal.)
After this, they have 15 seconds to stand up and bring their journal to the next seat, and begin the process anew. (In my banquet table example, one side would move and the other side would stay seated.) Because this is such a fast-paced exercise with frequent breaks, students are able to focus carefully on their peers’ writing. Plus they get to hear lots of great things about their own writing!
Pick a Prompt
Instead of sharing the prompt for that day, students choose whatever prompt they want from the past two weeks—the one they think is the strongest. They revise this for homework, and should be prepared the next day to read it to the class. My expectation for this kind of presentation is much higher because students get to practice it at home first.