The Writer's Room at Edgar: School Volunteerism at its Best

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Marcia Holzman 001.JPGMarcia Holtzman has devoted her life to Metuchen students.  A retired MHS writing teacher, department chair, former assistant superintendent of schools, and recipient of many district honors, Ms Holtzman continues to share her talent and love of writing with our kids.  She is responsible for bringing The Writer's Room to Edgar School.

 

Founded in Montclair in 1989 and brought to Metuchen by Ms Holtzman in 2001, the Writer's Room matches adult writers with students in one-on-one coaching sessions.  "Teachers are frustrated over not having more one-on-one time with their students.  A process approach to writing requires many helping hands" explains Ms Holtzman.

The program helps students decide what they want to say and how to organize their thoughts.  A coach might end a first meeting with a student by summarizing their brainstorming session and giving him or her direction for a first draft.  The next session might be a discussion about the first draft - what works and what doesn't.  At each meeting, the coach and student get closer to finalizing the assignment and the child clearly sees the process development.     

 

Coaches are available at a teacher's request - participation in the program is not mandatory.  If requested, they visit the classroom once per week and become collaborators, enabling individualized critique to each participating child.  The first job of a coach is to identify a child's strength.  In responding to the child's work as a reader - an experienced, empathetic, professional reader, the coach helps the young writer begin to understand better ways of communicating an idea.  'You start with some positive feedback before helping the child organize his or her thoughts and leave the technical corrections to the teachers" said Ms Holtzman.   

 

Volunteers go through an instructional period where they learn how to respond to student papers.  Training provides a frame of reference, enabling coaches to speak in a common voice, and provides ideas on how to help a frustrated, scared, or even angry young writer.  According to one coach "Working with a child who doesn't seem to want to write and watching them start to get excited about writing is very rewarding."

 

Perhaps you have a talent to share with the children of Metuchen.  Dozens volunteer to coach our community sports teams; you might be just the person to connect with the academic needs of a young learner. If you are interested in learning more about the Writer's Room, contact Marcia Holtzman at MarciaEd@aol.com

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