Enjoyable Volunteering at Fighting Words

Tucked away in Behan Square off of Russell Street is a little building that houses Fighting Words, a creative writing center that runs workshops for people of all ages to foster creative writing and to promote literacy. The center was founded by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love as a creative space for people to explore their love of writing and develop their writing skills. The center just celebrated its fifth anniversary this past weekend!

The center hosts a variety of workshops for students of all ages. Mornings during the week are devoted to workshops for students in the elementary grades. Each morning a different primary school class visits the center for a story writing workshop. The workshop begins with a talk about what goes in a story. As a group, ideas for the characters, plot, and title are brainstorm and then voted on. The students then begin to write the story together. As they’re writing, a volunteer is typing up the story on the screen while another volunteer is illustrating the story. When the story is half done, the students move to tables and finish the stories individually. When the workshop is over, each student gets to take home a color copy of his or her story, complete with illustrations and a picture of themselves as the author on the back.

The afternoons are devoted to workshops for students in the secondary grades. Some of these workshops are similar to the primary ones. Students write the first half of a story as a class and finish it on their own. Each year there is also one class that works one afternoon a week at the center for a full year to make a publication of their writing. The center also has “Write Club” two afternoons a week. This club is time for writers in the secondary grades to come work with volunteers on their writing. During the evenings, the center holds workshops for teachers to explain how elements of the primary and secondary workshops can be implemented in the classroom. The center also has times for the volunteers to come work on their writing and serves as a general space for creative writing when workshops are not in session.

As an early childhood/elementary education major, I see so much value in the work that happens at Fighting Words. These workshops aim to foster a love of writing in students which helps create lifelong readers and writers as well as helps students develop their literacy skills. Also, the primary workshops provide concrete meaningful experiences that teach writing conventions and the parts of a story—plot, characters, setting, etc. The secondary workshops provide students a creative time and place to hone the writing skills they learn in their primary grades.  I volunteer mostly at primary story writing workshops and I can definitely see ways that I will use the format of these workshops in my future classroom.

Dominique Viteretto
Crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge
during a weekend tour to Northern Ireland.
Champlain Abroad Dublin
Photo: Hanna Cormier

It’s very enjoyable volunteering at Fighting Words. It’s such a great feeling to see children being able to be creative and taking ownership over their stories. The pride that each child has when he or she can hold the story he or she helped write is so cool to see! I would encourage future Champlain Abroad students to volunteer there—especially education and writing majors!

-Dominique Viteretto
Champlain Abroad Dublin Spring’14
Champlain College, Early Childhood Elementary Education’15

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