I brought a notebook and my pencil box (which I keep full of pens I really enjoy writing with as well as various other tools.)
The first writing activity was to write an informal biography. Basically it was just a stream of thought based around my life. It wasn't too hard for me because I wrote one for my blog. Then we identified three types of writing we could do from the information in the story. I chose narrative, persuasive, and technical.
Ironically the next activity was to write a narrative using something from the informal biography. I wrote a story about a boy's first day at a new school and how he came to realize that there were a lot of new students in that school before him and he finds some comfort in that fact.
This story really is personal. The hallway exists and I often stop and look at the people in the pictures and wonder about their stories. On that wall are pictures of my grandfather, my father, my uncle and myself as well.
Next we created poetry using a series of prepositional phrases. This was a bit harder than I expected. It seemed that each phrase was a multiple harder than the one before.
I chose the interest journal over Starry Night by Van Gogh. When I saw it I new that I needed to share a story in it. How often do students 'have to' share a story in your class? How powerful would it be if they had that experience?
Here is the story I wrote. It is about how one of the bathrooms in my school has had Starry Night painted on its walls. The stories in the journal that were written by other teachers that had been in this same workshop were very interesting to read as well. There are a lot of emotional connections to art work. We should make sure our students have the opportunities to both connect emotionally with art and to share how they connected with it.
Next we were asked to look a photograph from history and decide:
What does it say?
What does it mean?
What does it matter?
I really enjoyed this workshop, there were a lot of usable take-aways. Now to adapt them to my social studies classes.