The Workshop Wonderland

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SWBAT: learn the rituals and routines of a Reader's Workshop.

Big Idea

By establishing routines and rituals, students learn that there are community-based benefits of the workshop.

Guiding Question

5 minutes

For most people, reading seems like one of the most individualized activities. By getting students to think about the collaborative possibilites of a Reader's Workshop, I work to debunk this myth. The Guiding Question asks "What are some ways we can help each other as readers and writers?"

Of course, kids are going to think about peer review when it comes to writing--they are used to that collaboration in an ELA classroom. However, I want them to begin thinking about book recommendations and shared reading experiences.

Here's one way I address that:

Mini Lesson

20 minutes

This Mini Lesson is one where I introduce my students to the routines of my class. I keep anchor charts at the front of the classroom explaining what each part of the workshop is, how long it lasts, and what both the teacher and the students are doing during this time.

As I'm going over each section, I have the students write down what their responsibility will be during this time in their Writer's Notebooks.

I use this time to talk about the benefits of a workshop compared to a traditional format. I talk about my role as a facilitator, rather than a lecturer. I pump the kids up--telling them that they will be talking A LOT in my class.

Afterward, I take questions and we have a brief discussion about the logistics of a worksop. Honestly, in my district, the workshop is used widely in elementary schools, so the transition is pretty easy. However, 6th graders are always navigating between my expectations and that of other content teachers, so a reminder is necessary.

 Here are the Workshop Expectations we came up with in this lesson.

Work Time

15 minutes

For the work time, I actually take my kids out into the hall and practice our routines as if we were beginning the class fresh. I use music to transition them through each section of class. They practice finding Optimal Learning Zones (or OLZ's) and transitioning quickly and quietly.

Here's more about the chunked time in the Workshop:

Wrap Up

5 minutes

Students are introduced to the Reflection stems during this lesson. They glue these into the inside, front cover of their Writer's Notebooks (notebooks they carry around with them all class). They choose one of the stems, and reflect. This gives the student another sense of choice. I also only ask that they write a sentence, or two. Generally, just in that little piece of writing, I can get a pretty good assessment of what support they need, and what is working well.