Reading/Writing Workshop — Week 1

This is the end of the first week of reading and writing workshop in my classes.  I am reading a couple of books–The Literacy Studio by Ellin Oliver Keene (she wrote Mosaic of Thought years ago, and I need to reread it!) and Teach Like a Champion 3.0 by Doug Lemov as an option of a faculty book study next year.

After meeting with two wonderful language arts teachers and college professors in the graduate education department, I decided to jump in whole-hog to use a workshop/studio model for my class. I can call my week by a movie title:  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.


The good:  for the most part, my students have been engaged in the silent reading portion of the period.  I haven’t had to call students down for misbehavior, talking, or time-wasting (not often, anyway).  Post-reading discussions have been good–maybe not great yet, but they have been good.  I haven’t gotten them to the point where referring to specific textual details or evidence I automatic.  I’m still getting a lot of “opinions” that cannot be backed up with evidence.

The bad:  I’m not sure I’m seeing much “bad.” I haven’t gotten the hang of the ten-minute mini-lesson.  I guess that’s bad.  Because I jumped in at the last minute, I haven’t really planned out everything.  I’m not sure where I’m going with instruction. This is NOT good. It’s even bordering on the “ugly.”

The “ugly”:  Although I’ve read the literature in the past about reading/writing workshops, I don’t have a clear picture of the direction the units of study should go.  For my unit focusing on The Maze Runner, I am letting Lucy Calkins’ Dystopian Fiction unit of study guide me, and it’s working–I think. . . . Shifting from a lot of tests and quizzes because everyone seems to be on a different page is messing with my grading (not assessment because I’m actually doing more assessment, at least in terms of formative assessment than I was before.  I have a stack of sticky note templates to read through!).

What I like–I see more students engaged in reading and discussing what they read with each other.  It’s not working in every case.  I have a couple of students who have been homeschooled most of their life, and they are the ones who are struggling with discussions with others. I want to keep that engagement going for the remainder of the year.

I have my work cut out for me. It’s going to be an interesting fourth quarter!

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