Creating a Writers’ Workshop in a Secondary Classroom
I always have second thoughts about my decision to become an AP and Honors English teacher in the middle of the school year. Not because I despise teaching, but because I’m drowning in essays that I have to grade on a regular basis. Because of the overwhelming workload, I modified the elementary way of thinking and established a writers’ workshop in my own classroom. Students will be able to learn how to revise their own essays after they have taken part in the workshop session. As a result, the amount of time it takes me to grade essays has been reduced by more than halve.
Suggestions for Implementing a Writers’ Workshop in Your Classroom
1. Station Rotation Model
When I conduct writers’ workshops in my own classroom, I use a modified version of the blended learning station rotation model. I set up five or six stations around my classroom to accommodate the number of students. Students enter the room and take a look at the assignments that have been written on the whiteboard. Afterwards, they select the skill that they wish to improve and proceed to the appropriate station. When a teacher works in a classroom, he or she usually starts at the table with the most difficult skill and then moves around to assist students as needed. The workshop is usually held over a period of 4-5 days.
2. Let Students Pick the Skills They Need to Build
Every time I conduct a writers’ workshop, I conduct a survey with the students and ask them what skills they would like to work on during the workshop. As a result, I’ve discovered that doing so allows me to narrow down the specific skills that my students are having difficulty with.
Examples of Stations
1. Read Aloud
A diagram depicting the front of the classroom, which includes two whiteboards, seven stations, and a peer review area at the back.
Shelby Scofield is the photographer who captured this image. (To see a larger version of this image, click here.)
Stations 1 and 2 are examples of Stations 1. Pronounce the words aloud
In the hallway after a brief discussion about the advantages of reading aloud, students use their phones or Chromebooks to record themselves reading aloud while standing there in the hallway.
The second recording is called Kaizena Recording.
Kaizena is a fantastic resource for educators who use Google Docs in their classrooms and other settings. Students can communicate with their teachers through the use of this app, which they can download for free. They use the app to highlight specific sections of their essays and to provide me with audible feedback on their work. They inform me of the areas in which they believe they require improvement and the areas in which they believe they have mastered.
3. Acquire the ability to analyse.
The ability to do this is one that can be challenging for students of all grade levels. To assist students in learning to analyse text, we provide them with a variety of passages and teach them techniques that will assist them in identifying the “bigger picture.” After they’ve completed this quick exercise, ask them to rework passages from their own papers.
4. Sentence fragments and run-ons are acceptable.
Then, after they have completed an exercise that teaches them how to recognise these types of sentences, instruct them to correct the sentences in their own essays.
5. The Organization of the Essay
Students should be instructed on the proper format for an essay. Then tell them to go back and label the sections of their essay with a pen, a pencil, or Google Docs so they can find them later.
6. Academic Writing and Transitions in the Classroom
Examples of academic words and transitions should be given to the students. They should then be instructed to use this type of language in their own papers. They should highlight or bold the sections of the document where they made the changes.
7. MLA Format and List of References
Instruct students to complete a variety of activities that will assist them in creating a works cited page for their own papers, with the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) serving as the primary source.
8. One-on-one time with the teacher
I believe that sitting down with students one-on-one is the most effective way to assist them with their writing needs. This is made possible by the writers’ workshop’s station rotation model, which allows teachers to devote more time to it.
9. Introduce a few quotations
This station is solely dedicated to assisting students in avoiding the habit of “dropping quotes,” which includes the practise of using quoted material without providing any context or attribution.
10. Peer Recommendations
When students have finished reading their partner’s essay, they should fill out a detailed form that you have provided them with to record their questions and observations. The students should have a verbal discussion with their partner about the areas that need improvement after reading the essay and filling out the form.
Grading Student Essays (No. 11)
Provide students with a stack of papers as well as a rubric. Their task will be to grade each essay and then discuss the results with the rest of the group.
Success of Workshop
Giving students greater control over their own learning has made a significant difference in my teaching. Allowing them to choose which writing skill they need to improve the most will allow those who are excelling to move on, and those who are struggling will have the opportunity to slow down and get the help they require. The quality of essays significantly improves after participating in a writers’ workshop. Students are happier as a result of the freedom I give them in the classroom, and I am happier as a result of the reduction in my workload. At the end of the day, I’ve discovered that learning how to write essays is a unique experience for each student. The writers’ workshop is geared toward students and provides them with the opportunity to learn the skills that every student needs in order to be successful.