During our first workshop at Orange High School, we played two “ice breaker games” to get to know each other, activities that I found surprising at first considering this was a writing workshop. However I quickly saw how these exercises are conducive to what Bruffee describes as “social reorganization” crucial to creating constructive conversations and collaborative writing in the long run.
In the first exercise we wrote two questions down and answered another High School student’s questions. Initially, this seemed silly to me as the high school students barely answered our questions and we did not get to know them too well. In the second exercise we played two truths and a lie. As we continued to talk to them, we realized that we actually have a lot in common; we like the same NFL and NBA teams, we watched the same TV shows, and we listened to similar music.
Bruffee makes the point that students talking to their peers about writing is the best form of collaboration. Although a teacher is more knowledgable than a student’s peer, a teacher seems like a stranger while peers are on a similar social level. At first, the high school students did not see us as their peers, as they were shy and unwilling to share. However through the ice breakers, they became more comfortable and our social standing became more equal. Students will come up with more ideas in an environment that they are more comfortable in, as Bruffee stated “teachers foster constructive conversations […] by creating classroom conditions in which such conversations can occur”(pg. 60). This was exemplified in my experience during the first workshop.
By realizing Bruffee’s point of collaborative writing through constructive conversations, I have come up with two goals that I will work towards accomplishing during these workshops. The first is to become better at editing my peers’ writing and the second is to become confident and to take ownership of my writing. I feel these are two skills that I will develop from talking to the students and participating in constructive conversations that happen in a comfortable environment, which I will help create.