My teaching load increased this academic year, for the second year in a row. I am not alone with this struggle, but it doesn’t make it easier to cope. There might be content areas where this is easier to handle, but writing is not one of them. There might be groups of student that make an increased load workable, but first-generation, first-year students is not one of them. However, after weeping, wailing, and gnashing my teeth for a while, I remembered a key tool that could help me serve my students’ unique and varied needs while providing the support they need to grow as writers (and readers and thinkers). This magical tool is the workshop. Two weeks into the semester and I have fallen back in love with the workshop. I’ll share my love letter to the workshop in a future blog post, but this Notable Notes will share some thoughts about workshop to inspire your thinking and teaching.
I have written a lot about writing workshop in the past including Feedback Loops and Writing Workshop and My Secret Formula to Facilitate Reflection and Workshop. My classes have always involved a lot of low-stakes writing, reflection, and coaching – all hallmarks of a writing workshop. You can also see my most recent post about workshops on the Kentucky Writing Project blog: 3 Reasons to Make Your Classroom a Workshop.
This article describes the basic writing workshop. Donald Graves paved the way for the writing process approach to teaching writing which gave birth to the writing workshop. And Donald Graves thoughts about teaching writing.
I am always informed and inspired by posts on Two Writing Teachers so I will share this great description of writing workshop.
Two entities have strongly impacted the development of my workshop: the National Writing Project and Liz Prather (who is also responsible for involving me in NWP).
Liz has also blogged extensively about writing workshop but two recent posts are informative about the form and work: Literary Sweatshops: Cultivating Civility in a High School Creative Writing Classroom and Literary Sweatshops, Part II: FAQ about High School Creative Writing Workshops.
My experience participating in many NWP events has influenced the way I teach writing and think about writing, so I will share a few NWP resources about writing workshop, planning writing instruction, and peer response plus this collection of workshop gems.
I will leave you with this module about feedback and revision, often the most troublesome part of workshop for teachers and writers alike.
Is the workshop model part of your classroom? What are your favorite workshop tips and resources?
Featured artwork by Laura Ritchie.