Why Workshop? Julie Buzza and Mindi RenchNorthbrook School District 28
What do teachers say about using a workshop framework?
When using the workshop format, I find that my kids writebetter. I write better. I use the workshop model to teach themspecific strategies and when we explore these strategiestogether, I find that I am learning right along with them. Thestudents are also more aware of the writing strategies thatweve discussed and they are pointing them out throughoutthe day. They have become more purposeful writers.In reading workshop, I find that I am doing a lot more 1:1instruction, based on my reading conferences. Before, when Itaught a whole class novel, it was easier on me, but I dontthink it was as beneficial for the students. Now, when we readnovels in groups, I find they are learning through theirdiscussions - just like they will in the real world! -Fifth grade teacher with twenty-five years of teaching experience
The greatest benefit of using the workshop model is thatI can focus on the students individual needs. When Iconfer, I can assess what they do, what they need, andthen guide my instruction according to what I see. -First grade teacher with 10+ years of experience
How has my teaching changed? Im not the one incontrol. While I may assign specific genres for readingand writing according to the district scope, the topics areentirely up to the kids. I also give them manyopportunities throughout the year to work on writing thatis entirely self-selected. I find that the kids are much morewilling to write and revise pieces when they have thatchoice. Im also finding kids are reading MUCH MOREsince weve moved away from assigned books. Because ofthe genres 7th grade is responsible for, most of our sharedtexts are short. This leaves plenty of opportunity for self-selected independent reading. -Seventh grade teacher with eighteen years experience
Guiding Principles of a Workshop Modelcreating an environment conducive to reading and writingincludes a blend of whole-group, small-group, and individual instructionincludes opportunities for students to read and write independentlyincludes opportunities for choice within the workshop - this provides ownershipof learning for students Teaching For Deep Comprehension by Linda Dorn & Carla Soffos
Well-organized classroom libraryLarge group meeting area Taking ownership of learning.
Workshop Framework (5 Components)1. Mini-lessons2. Small Group Instruction3. One-to one or small group conferences4. Share time Teaching For Deep Comprehension by Linda Dorn & Carla Soffos, p. 66-67
PlanningWhat do students need to know andbe able to do in order to be betteradults? How can I help students cometo know what they know and are ableto do? What will I do if they dont get That Workshop Book by Samantha Bennett, p. 7
InstructionWhat daily systems, structures, routines, and ritualswill help me uncover what my students know and areable to do so I can teach them more today and teachthem better tomorrow? What will help studentsknow so they can become intrinsically motivatedagents of their own learning? That Workshop Book by Samantha Bennett, p. 7
Why are the five components necessary each day?Teachers don’t teach just in the mini-lesson part of a workshop. As teaching consists of assessment, planning, and instruction, teachers teach the whole way through the workshop. Component Teaching Examples setting a purpose, demonstrating a skill, doing a think-aloud, mini-lesson showing students how to make meaning small-group instruction listening to group instruction, labeling student thinking independent practice reading student thinking in response long and following up listening for fluent reading, recommending a text, one-to-one or small group conferences labeling student thinking synthesizing student understanding, making connections share time from mini-lesson
Assessment How do I know what my students are able to do? That Workshop Book, pg. 7Remember...Each workshop component has a built-in assessment piece thatallows the teacher to observe students across different contexts andwith varying degrees of support. Teaching For Deep Comprehension, p. 67
The purpose of a mini-lesson is to enable students toaccomplish a particular goal with assistance from the teacher. Students should have heard the book during read-aloud time; this previous experience with the book will give them a meaningful context for studying the strategy that will be introduced. Mini-lessons are approximately 15 minutes long. Longer mini- lessons run the risk of degenerating into a focus on items instead of a stratgic process for problem solving. Following framework is compatible with the gradual release model, which begins with a high degree of teacher support and ends with a high degree of students independence.
Steps in a mini-lesson1. Review anchor chart or learning target.2. Model the process.3. Provide guided practice.4. Provide independent practice.5. Share. adapted from Teaching For Deep Comprehension by Linda Dorn & Carla Soffos, p. 97
What happens after a mini-lesson?Small Group Instruction Guided reading groups Literature circlesPractice to Promote Transfer Independently With a peerConferring With the Teacher One-to-one Small group conferences
A Closer Look at Small Groups Guided Reading Groups Literature Discussion Groups "Small groups of students read"The teacher selects a common and discuss a common text. Texttext for a group of students with During the group discussion,similar needs. Each student the teacher is a participant-reads the entire text; the observer, allowing the studentsteacher circulates among the to assume the majorgroup, prompting individual responsibility for talking aboutstudents to apply various the book."comprehending strategies." Dont forget about small writing groups too! Teaching For Deep Comprehension by Linda Dorn & Carla Soffos, p. 67
So how does transfer happen?"To promote transfer, teachers need to give students opportunities to apply their knowledge without guidance." Independent: With a peer:Reading or a variety of tasks to support reading Buddy readingcomprehension... Paried reading • reflections in reading log Peer discussion groups • creating a text map Readers theatre Literature extensionsWriting or a variety of tasks to support thewriting process... Peer writing conferences • entries in a notebook Co-writing with a peer • reading mentor texts(The primary grades might have literacycenters.) Teaching For Deep Comprehension by Linda Dorn & Carla Soffos, p. 67
A Closer Look at Conferring Conferences are critical to workshop! They may be either one-to-one or small-group, made up of two to four students with similar needs.The Nuts and BoltsThey are brief.They take place while the rest of the class is workingin pairs or independently.Notes are taken.
What were we thinking? Lab Teacher Conferring Study 11-18-08
“Conferences work because I am showing the kidsI genuinely care about their learning and I can see what they need help with if they do and then plan accordingly.”
“They need a goal. That is a great wayto end the conference.”
“I am realizing that conferring at alllevels is valuable and important. First graders need it as well as junior high students.”
“At this moment, I am thinking that conferring with students isone of the most powerful ways to get to know a child.“
“One has to be intentional in order to be successful in conferring.“
“We are facilitators in these conferences- allowing thechildren to process and develop their thinking.”
Sharing/Reflection Remember...It allows for the important social context of literacy.Not everyone always shares.Tip: Set a timer so this last component doesnt get left out. Possible Prompts:What did you do today?What did you learn about yourself as a reader/writer?What worked? What didnt?Possible Ways to Share:Authors chairShare with a partnerConnecting conferences to the share
Why does workshop work? Teachers can do what they do best. Be responsive to students needs.You have the structure set so... students can focus on their learning and not wonder what comes next.It allows for each teacher to personalize their approach. Each workshop has that teachers "stamp" on it. There are multiple ways to "do this right"... This instructional approach builds in the time to naturally differentiate for all the learners.
Workshop: you know the how, what about the what? When workshop originated, choice prevailed.It still is a vital part of any workshop. However, units of study helpto frame the learning that is taking place. To create units of study, look to your literacy curriculum!
One District’s Approach The comprehension strategy units are our overarching framework. Comprehension strategy units may last longer and encompass a few genre studies. • For example, while focusing on the strategy of determining importance, our 7th grade reads and writes both poetry and feature articles.
Why units of study?In units of study, learners improve as readers by writing in thegenre. They also improve as writers by reading in the genre.Intervention can seamlessly align with classroom instruction.It helps districts to avoid gaps and overlaps in their literacycurriculum.You can avoid the mile-wide-and-an-inch-deep dilemma!
What happens in a unit of study? Learners... Teachers...record powerful language, genre and strategy create co-constructed anchor charts.learning in their notebooks. select from a menu of instructional componentsadd to their notebooks during whole group, used to teach comprehension, problem-solving,small group, and one-to-one conferences. and composing strategies.use their notebook entries as a resource when continue to maintain the structure of readingcomposing texts. and writing workshop.
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