Gone are the days when WNY Young Writer’s Studio writers celebrated their accomplishments by participating in readings or showcasing their anthology submissions. We celebrate our published writers to be sure, but our most rewarding events are those that bring family, friends, and other teachers and writers from outside of our community together to learn from one another.
Each spring, we host an unconference where writers of all ages facilitate conversations about strategies that work for them, how they make writing, and the resources and tools they rely on. Those who publish in our anthology receive their copies that day, and we enjoy a hearty round of applause upon distribution, but the focus is on sharing what was learned throughout the process instead of the results of it.
Hosting an interactive installation of writer’s works accomplishes a similar goal while providing visitors and participants the opportunity to drop by when it’s most convenient for them. In addition to displaying final works and products, writers make their learning visible and create opportunities for audiences to engage with various products and tools in order to learn from them.
The theme of our first installation at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio was Play with Writing! Fellows of all ages showcased the products they were proudest of, but they also included reflections on the relationship between their play and their writing. Visitors had the opportunity to explore a number of creative catalysts for their own play, and they used the writing that resulted to create installation artworks that continue to inspire our current fellows. Some of them are featured in the photo collage above.
Interested in giving this a go? These four steps can get you started.
Creating an Installation of Learning Made Visible
- Engage writers in reflection. I find that when learners reflect before, during, and after creating the experience is far more satisfying for them, and they are better able to identify the most significant elements of their learning. These prompts may be helpful.
- Invite them to design a unique display that includes drafts of their work and artifacts from their writing experiences, things they’ve made relevant to their drafts, and evidence of their thinking and learning. Need some ideas? I’ve pinned a bunch here.
- Challenge these writers to add an interactive dimension to their display that allows visitors to do similar thinking, making, or writing. Exhibition can be far more rewarding for visitors and audiences than mere celebration. Here, writers share their strategies so that others may learn from them. Adding this element to your installation will inspire great learning and conversation.
- Tuck other opportunities for visitors to make and write throughout your space. These quick experiences can challenge visitors to think and learn and write and make in ways they haven’t before. I’ve begun a Pinterest board for this as well.
Writers spend a great deal of time working in solitude. It’s important that we learn together, celebrate together, and make space for shared ideation. When Studio fellows participate in events and join communities other than our own, we benefit from the expertise and the energy they gain. We also recognize our place within a far wider network that is populated with similarly spirited beings, regardless of how they make. This realization sustains more than our learning. It validates who we are as individuals and as smaller communities of practice.
Writing is made better when we invite company.