Reading Workshop | Writing Workshop

Copyright | Super Teacher Ideas : Reading Workshop and Writing Workshop
Activities & Lesson Ideas
Workshop Approach to Teaching Reading and Writing
Reading & Writing Workshops
Written by Cristy, 7th Grade Teacher

Workshops rock!! The whole workshop concept is based on the idea that choice, authentic tasks, and extended time to read and write in class will greatly increase a child's motivation to learn, which will in turn enhance student performance.

Choice: The majority of the work done in a workshop is self-chosen by the student. In writing workshops, students identify what they are interested in writing about, choose the genre that best suits their subject, then take least one written piece through the entire writing process. In reading workshops, students choose most of what they read and are given plenty of class time to engage with literature, both individually and in whole-class study.

Authentic tasks: students are asked to study and practice like real readers and writers. They are asked to do little that adults do not do in the real world. Students write about what matters to them and publish their work. They talk about literature as if they were in book clubs. Grammar, spelling and vocabulary lessons are always student-generated.

Workshops follow a predictable format: there is usually a mini-lesson that supports the reading and writing the students are doing and there is always time in class offered for students to either read or write.

A typical writing workshop might look like this:
  1. Brief read aloud
  2. Mini-lesson (grammar, genre, writing process, etc.)
  3. Prompted warm-up
  4. Individual writing time (some students are writing, some are conferencing with peer or with the teacher)
  5. Brief sharing session

A typical reading workshop might look like this:
  1. Mini-lesson (reading strategies, genre, etc.)
  2. Self-selected reading
  3. Book talks
  4. Whole-class literature study

Generally, workshop follows a predictable weekly schedule as well. My students have writing workshop on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and literature workshop on Thursdays and Fridays. Always. The specific activities of each day vary, but they can always count on time each day to read and write.

Of course, there is no "right" way to run a workshop. If you want to learn more, I recommend Nancie Atwell's In the Middle. It is the most comprehensive description of what a reading and writing workshop might look like at the secondary level.

On a personal level, workshop has changed the way I look at education and has resulted in unbelievable changes in my students. Last year I had a seventh grader who wouldn't do an ounce of work. All he wanted to do was play video games. After several months of reading workshop, I couldn't PRY a book out of his hands. He would get in trouble for reading in his other classes and even stopped playing video games so he could read more! So go for it -it's a wonderful environment for authentic learning!

Webmaster note:  Cristy-- Thank you VERY MUCH for sharing your enthusiastic insight into writer's workshop! 
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