How to Survive Anything

July 1, 2015 | 826 Blog Post

release party

The Fabulous Results of Survival!

One of the many ways we help students generate fantastic (in the literal sense) ideas, is through small-group brainstorming and writing. By getting lots of small details and ideas from a pool of students (not literal), they then have to figure out ways that their ideas can connect. If you’ve ever seen a school of angler fish, there is a similar amount of lightbulbs going off as students complete their ideas. The best way to see the flash of those lightbulbs? Write down everything!

“How To Survive Anything” is one of our most popular Workshop Roadshows in Detroit. In this workshop, students work with a volunteer in small teams to write a survival guide to a scenario the workshop leader gives them. After coming up with ideas as a group on their official brainstorming paper, students put them in order in a “First, Then, Next, Last” how-to guide. Then, students create their own individual scenario, and tell us how to make it out alive. Some example of student guides include: How To Survive an Arachnophobia Tornado, How To Survive Walking Your Dog, and How To Survive Being Lost in the Woods.

Using our new deepwater-diving submarine-robot, Deep-C3PO, we discovered a treasure chest of amazing unpublished writing. Included in that pile of waterlogged writing, was the work of Workshop Roadshow volunteer, Alain Guedes. Here, we can see the impressive amount of brainstorming we ask students to go through during our workshop roadshows. By reading these final drafts and frantic brainstorms, you can learn how exactly our volunteers prepare themselves to have a huge impact in the classroom… and what to do if you find yourself in the middle of a Kafka story.

Below are the retrieved and restored brainstorming pages, as well as the polished and immaculate final draft Alain produced. Estimated net worth of our underwater expedition… priceless.

Brandan Pierce, 826michigan Program Coordinator


 How to Survive Your First Workshop Roadshow

 By Alain Guédès

First, watch the volunteer video because it’s full of useful strategies. Check the map for the school and the time of the event 50+ times in the two days prior, with increasing frequency the closer the event is. Read and reread the very detailed instructions Brandan, or whoever your leader is, sent. This is key. It really helps to know the procedure.

Next, get up and stumble out of the house. You’re busy and tired but students need to write!!!! If you’re the first one there: Play it cool. If Brandan is there say “GOOD MORNING!” as if you’ve gotten a full night’s rest. Regardless of how you’re actually feeling, enthusiasm is contagious.

Then, go in and find the largest chair in the room. Claim it defiantly. You DO NOT want to sit in a tiny chair for the entire session. Sit tight while the other volunteers sort out the tech. Get fired up. After Brandan does his spiel find a group of writers and enthusiastically introduce yourself. Learn everyone’s name and offer one of your middle names because your first name is French and hard to pronounce. Thanks Dad. Really encourage everyone to participate. Use the “So what happens next?” line from the orientation video. It works a treat. Keep the energy level high and laugh. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. The kids are excited you’re there and you should be too. Bear in mind the email from Brandan that should contain what they are learning in their class. They zone in when you can relate the activity to what they’re learning in class.

Last, keep up that energy. Make sure the writers have done all they need to do or at least prepared to work more on their own. Let everyone know how much fun you had and how impressed you are. Take a deep breath and realize that two hours just passed by in an instant.

Congrats! You Survived!

(Survival isn’t the right word. You’ve flourished and inspired young writers. That’s a Friday morning well spent. Take that nap—you’ve earned it!)


How to Survive Your First 826Michigan Workshop

 By Alain Guédès

(supporting images below)

Troop Name: Troop Pizza

Troop Motto: “Be Chill”

How to survive waking up and realizing you’re a giant bug:

First, hide from family and/or girlfriend.

Next, Instagram a picture of yourself. #kafkaesque #buglifechoseme

Then: Find and befriend that entomologist.

Last, follow that entomologist’s advice and try to live comfortably. Also, avoid the authorities.

Step 1

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