Three years ago I started an after school club for first graders and simply titled it Writing Club. Year one and two it was held twice a month after school during second semester and this past year I decided I wanted to be able to offer the club starting in September. This program took off more than I could have ever expected and I had to put a cap on enrollment this year! Club time starts with a 15 minute focus lesson based around one of the Six Traits of writing. Students learn songs that help them remember the traits, they work together in small groups, and also have individual time to write. I've had the support of 6th grade student volunteers and many parents and teachers. This past year, if I was unable to be at a session, I had three teachers I knew I could count on to step up to the plate and help the young writers. (To you, @amymillerpv and @jlbuz, I will be ever grateful!) The PTA at my building generously provided journals, word books, trait bookmarks for students, as well as mentor texts and other various supplies to teach focus lessons. This year has been one to remember and I'm looking forward to our end of the year presentation to parents where students will read their stories and poems to their parents and friends.
With that said, I have this yearning inside of me to take this after school opportunity to the next level. I want to be able to help more students, but how far do I want to expand and who is going to help me accomplish that goal? It's a first grade club right now, but I want to see other grade levels involved---all the way through 12th grade! Will I be able to "recruit" teachers to volunteer their time to provide a writing environment for students to be creative and learn about Six Traits? With everything that teachers have going on in their professional lives as well as their personal lives, is this really a reality? What about other buildings in our district? There are four elementary buildings with a fifth opening up next year, a Jr. High and a High School. Are there enough "lone nuts" out there that view writing as a priority that would want to get this started in their buildings?
This weighs heavily on my heart because I know that with the support, kids will fall in love with writing in ways they never imagined. However, it can't be a one-person job anymore. I'd even be willing to sit down with as many teachers as I could to write the curriculum for the club and would support them all the way. Time will tell if this idea will stay in first grade at one building, or if it's time for some forward movement. My vote: move forward!