Writing Workshops

Cape Cod author and poet Mary E. Cronin is available to present poetry and writing workshops in school and library settings. Mary’s energetic style ties together her enthusiasm for poetry and rich stories with her knowledge of the teaching standards that must be met in classrooms today. Contact Mary to discuss setting up an author visit to your classroom. Some of her workshops include:

“Mary conducted a fabulous poetry workshop with my 8th graders. Through her personal stories, her knowledgeable writing expertise, and her writing activities, she connected with my students and got them excited about reading and writing poetry. I can’t wait to have her back again!”

Amy Woods, Teacher, Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School, Harwich, MA


The Poetry of Names

Students will write poetry about the origins or associations of their own names, after reading and analyzing the poetry of two award-winning books: Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming and Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover. (Available to grades 6-12)

Objective: Through reading and analyzing outstanding examples of multi-cultural literature, students will compose free-verse poems.

Learning experiences: Analyze poems for explicit meaning as well as inferences; discuss figurative and connotative meanings in poetry, as well as the power of specific word choice.

Outcome: Students will more deeply understand the structure and poetic devices in poetry, using these insights to compose their own poems.

Link to Common Core:  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL6-8.1, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL6-8.4; 6-8.5, 6-8.6, 6-8.9, 6-8.10. (reading) CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.2.D. (writing) ELA STANDARD 10 (RANGE OF TEXT TYPES FOR 6-12)


Poetry Gives Us Windows and Mirrors

Students will analyze a selection of contemporary poetry by a diverse array of poets. Emphasis is on structure as well as how a poem can serve as a window (a means of understanding someone else’s experience) as well as a mirror (seeing reflections of one’s own life or experience in a poem). With this new awareness, students will then write a poem of their own. An empathy-building experience, this workshop is perfect for the fall when students are forming a sense of community, during Poetry Month in April, or any time of year. (Available to elementary through high school)

Objective: Through reading and analyzing outstanding examples of multi-cultural poetry, students will compose free-verse poems as well as understand social-emotional content.

Learning experiences: Analyze poems for explicit meaning as well as inferences; discuss figurative and connotative meanings in poetry, as well as the power of specific word choice. Content offers rich opportunity for empathy- and community-building.

Outcome: Students will more deeply understand the structure and poetic devices in poetry, using these insights to compose their own poems.

Link to Common Core: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL6-8.1, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL6-8.2; 6-8.4; 6-8.5, 6-8.6, 6-8.9, 6-8.10. (reading) CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.2.D. (writing) ELA STANDARD 10 (RANGE OF TEXT TYPES FOR 6-12)


Building a Fire: How Writers Make Stories

Students will learn the basic building blocks of good stories, including flawed characters, thwarted desires, allies and sidekicks, conflict and resolution. When all those elements are in place,  a story is like a crackling fire in winter—we are drawn to it. Mary will use examples of well-known books to illustrate these building blocks, achieving two goals for your students: to deepen their understanding of story analysis and structure, and to inspire them to write their own rich, deep stories. (Available to grades 4-12)

Objective: Through reading and analyzing outstanding examples of multi-cultural literature chosen in conjunction with classroom teacher, students will map out plot, characters and other key story elements.

Learning experiences: Analyze and discuss literature for explicit meaning as well as inferences; discuss plot structure and how theme is conveyed through particular detail.

Outcome: Students will more deeply understand the structure of story, how plot and characters are developed, and will use these insights to brainstorm ideas for their own stories.

Link to Common Core: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions; CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL6-8.2; 6-8.3; 6-8.5, 6-8.6; 6-8.10. (reading); ELA STANDARD 10 (RANGE OF TEXT TYPES FOR 6-12)


The Poetry of Firefighters

Using her own poems as well as those from award-winning poetry books, Mary will present poetry around the theme of firefighting. Using props (firefighting helmet and boots) and poetry charts, Mary will engage students with lively wordplay, developing appreciation for rhyme, rhythm, craft and structure, while boosting awareness of firefighting vocabulary and fire safety. (Available to grades K-3)

Objective: Through group reading and analysis of a selection of poems about firefighting, students will learn about alliteration, rhythm, choral reading, rhyme, and topic-specific vocabulary.

Learning experiences: Analyze poems for explicit meaning as well as alliteration, rhyme, repetition, and rhythm.

Outcome: Through participation in choral reading, students will more deeply understand structure and poetic devices in poetry, identifying words that appeal to the senses, rhyming words, and key vocabulary.

Link to Common Core:  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY (reading, GRADES K-3):Ask and answer questions about key details; recognize common types of texts (poetry); engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding; identify phrases and words that appeal to the senses; demonstrate understanding of how beats, rhythm, rhyme, stanza, and repetition can contribute to meaning in a poem. ELA STANDARD 10 (RANGE OF TEXT TYPES FOR K-5).

Longer Programs

Candy Dish Writers:

A six-week program that can be tailored to setting and age level. Mary will lead a poetry writing group (meeting once a week for 90 minutes) that supports creativity and risk-taking. Each week, new poets and poetry books will be introduced and analyzed, providing inspiration for poetry writing in a variety of forms, including narrative poems, limericks, haiku, free verse poems, and more. There will always be a fully-loaded candy dish on the table! Ideal for libraries, afterschool programs, and other community settings.


“Mary came to our school to do a writing workshop with our 7th and 8th graders. She connected with them instantly. The children asked her to return for another workshop.”

Tracey Coleman, Principal, St. Luke’s School, South Bronx


Topics can also be developed to correspond with your classroom curriculum or to expand upon a book your class is reading.

For more information on scheduling and fees, contact Mary.