Guide to workshop

For class on Monday, we will have the opportunity to workshop three photo essays as a whole class.  For the second half of class, we will workshop essays in small groups, so that everyone leaves with good feedback for revising their own photo essay.

If you would like to volunteer to have your photo essay draft workshopped by the class, please email T.  This will be fun!  Workshop is always one of my favorite classes, and I bet it will be yours too.

To Prepare for Workshop:

Before class, view each photo essay at least twice.

Jot down notes on a piece of paper that you can give to each photo essay maker at the end of workshop.

Jot down notes about things that you admire or believe to be especially effective.  What are your first impressions?  Say why you like something or why you believe it works so that the photo essay maker knows what the viewer’s experience might be.  Don’t be shy. What would you want to know from a viewer about your draft?

Also, point to things that you wonder about or that could be made stronger, that need clarification or development. Jot down questions. Where might the photo essay maker expand or push further? Is something repetitive?  Say what you see that isn’t quite working yet or isn’t working as well as it could be.

Also, consider structure. Is this the best form to present this material?  Is there an arc?

Consider the goals of the photo essay. What unifies the draft?  Write down what you believe to be at the core of the essaywhat is at stake, what it explores or reveals to the viewer.

It is our goal in workshop to help the photo essay maker to see what is working really well and what can be considered for the next revision.

Know that we are all in this together wanting these photo essays to be the best they can be. Try to say what you see happening in the draft so that the photo essay maker can see how one viewer experiences the essay, and then the photo essay maker has a choice of what to do next.

During Workshop:

For each workshop draft, everyone will speak to say something that they like or admire in the draft–and everyone also will say something that they have a question about or that could help the photo essay maker make the draft stronger.  Everyone will speak at least twice for each photo essay draft.

The goal is to have a lively discussion, exchanging ideas and talking about the draft, so that the photo essay maker can listen and have new insights into what to do next. As the workshopper, you’ll be gaining insights into how to make your own draft stronger from the suggestions that surface during the discussion. You’ll be working from  your notes. 

Workshop Roles:

Reader – reads the draft aloud so that  the photo essay maker can hear what the text sounds like when someone else reads it aloud and so that the group can hear how the prose is working aloud. (2-3 minutes)

Time Keeper(s) –alerts the workshop group to each section of the workshop & keeps us on track

Photo essay maker/writer – volunteers draft, listens while the group discusses and asks questions about the draft.  The writer takes notes on a copy of their own draft while listening to discussion.  Then the writer speaks at the end, asking questions of the group or clarifying moments in the draft or otherwise responding to the experience of having a draft workshopped

Workshopper –  engages with draft, exchanging ideas and questions about the draft with the group, building on what others say, helping to make the essay draft into its best self: a community of writers/makers/thinkers.

Time Frame:   We will have 20 minutes for each draft

2-3 minutes – draft read aloud by reader

 6 minutes – everyone points to something specific that they admire that is working well in the draft, talks about why

10 minutes – everyone points to something that can make the work stronger and/or asks questions of the draft; group discusses these ideas and then considers what is at the core of the essay, what’s at stake, what unifies it

2 minutes – writer speaks to ask questions of the group or to clarify moments of discussion; group listens and then discusses questions together; last notes shared.

Fun!      Intense!     Illuminating!    —overheard after previous workshops