Power of the Pen coaches and K-12 teachers from throughout Ohio gathered virtually on Saturday morning, November 7, for the third annual Kernels of Wisdom narrative writing workshop presented by the National Writing Project at Kent State University (NWP-KSU) and Power of the Pen.
A core belief of the National Writing Project is that writing teachers should be writers themselves, learning alongside their students as they hone their craft together. Keynote speaker Jean Kanzinger of Chagrin Falls High School began the morning with a prompt for workshop participants to write their own key scene. Their responses to the prompt provided a foundation for Jean’s presentation on story structure and the ways we can think through story plots to create the most compelling prose. Jean used examples from Power of the Pen’s annual Book of Winners to show how 7th and 8th grade writers’ works can be used as mentor texts to teach the writing techniques she shared.
Jeff Harr of Kent Roosevelt High School described strategies for beginnings and endings. He demonstrated the strategies by writing various hooks and conclusions for a single story, illustrating how different techniques affect the story’s emotional impact.
Katie Kerns of Norwayne Middle School discussed how to help students expand important descriptions in their writing. Three ideas include collecting impactful sentences from other writers, using a toilet paper tube to describe only what students can see through the tube, and using Bitmojis to teach character description.
Power of the Pen Executive Director Barb Tschantz wrapped up the morning with a judge training session.
Coaches who attended the workshop said they can’t wait to bring these strategies to their students. Disa Banker of Ann Simpson Davis Middle School, who tweeted these photos of herself and her notes from the workshop, said, “Start with the conflict! Duh!!! Why didn’t I think of that... great ideas about hooks and conclusions for our POP writers. I’m so excited to share this with our team on Thursday!”