Do the Write Thing

A writing workshop for grades 4 & 5 led by local experts

Tech columnist, bestselling author, five-time TED speaker, host of 20 NOVA science specials on PBS, and creator/host of a CBS News/Simon & Schuster podcast David Pogue brought a suitcase to his workshop. It was full of products he’d been sent to review over the years. The first thing he pulled out looked like a model of the Guggenheim. It was a collapsable bike helmet! “That doesn’t seem very useful,” said one of the students. “Ah-ha!” said Pogue. “Put that in your review!”

Fourth and fifth graders at Katonah Elementary School spent the morning of June 11 writing product reviews, song lyrics, TV news, sports stories, first person stories and much more … with professional writers.

The exciting writing enrichment, called Do the Write Thing, has been hosted every other year by the school’s PTO for more than 20 years.

Students choose the workshop that intrigues them

“Today, we invite you to be creators,” said parent Louise Alverson, welcoming students to the event. As she introduced the workshop teachers, the local aspect of the event became apparent. Several of the experts were KES parents; most lived in the community. Students smiled when Maria Colaco was introduced. “Ms. Colaco is a digital marketing specialist, not just your Lion King choreographer!” said Alverson.

Students were able to select one workshop from 11 options, each with an enticing name such as Poetry Playhouse and Pet Prose.

The secret to a good opening

“How many brothers or sisters do you have,” singer/songwriter Christine Chanel asked one of the students, coaxing out feelings of fun and adventure. “I have a few siblings; I always have something to write about,” she said. By noon, the class was singing a hip-hop song about togetherness; Chanel brought it together with a catchy melody on her guitar.

A university student was the mystery guest for a workshop on feature writing led by Gia Miller and Justin Negard, publishers of Connect to Northern Westchester magazine. The young woman told students a story from her first days at college; their challenge was to determine where her story should start. “You captivate a reader by starting a story somewhere other than the beginning,” said Miller.

students proudly share their work

By noon, the young writers had drafts to share. The fourth and fifth graders and the guest teachers gathered back in the gym, where several students from each workshop shared their work.

“The shared readings were fabulous," said Alverson. "The laughter, positive applause and the energy across the gym was contagious. The kids had a great time!”