Introducing Workshop Model

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SWBAT respond thoughtfully making new connections in light of reasoning presented by listening to a lecture on the Workshop Model and responding to a prompt.

Big Idea

Can high schools benefit from workshop style classroom?

Workshop model in my classroom-an explanation

I embraced the workshop model concept because it keeps me from talking too much. Teachers tend to love to listen to themselves talk, and I was certainly part of this group.  I could spend an entire class period talking about the themes of Shakespearean literature or the nuances of the perfect thesis statement. However, I have embraced the concept "Whomever is speaking, is learning."  I attended a workshop model conference and the presenter asked us to think about when during the class period we know our students are learning.  This thought was the beginning of the change to my educational philosophy.  I realized that the more I talked during class, the less time I spent observing my students wrestle with difficult texts; the less time I spent helping individual and small groups improve their writing; the less time I spent gaining formative assessment data to help me guide my lessons.  
The Common Core Standards fit perfectly as a driving force behind the Workshop Model in my classroom.  Since part of the workshop model is presenting a mini lesson, I have had to really think about what the Standards are going to look like through the eyes of the students.  When I look at the Standards and plan to teach a specific few, I make a plan to model those skills to the students.  At first, this was uncomfortable.  However, I've realized that this modeling has improved my students' proficiency in the Standards.  

Explaining the system to students

20 minutes
During today's section, I am going to introduce students to the WORKSHOP MODEL STRUCTURE.  I will draw this structure on the white board as I explain each section to the class.  I do this because I want students to understand what most days are going to look like in class.  I want the expectations to be shared and clear.  Listening to this explanation gives students an opportunity to practice coming to this collaborative discussion and listening during this 15 minute lecture (SL.9-10.1)
I explain to students:
When students enter you have a 5 minute warm up which will tie in to the previous day's lesson or to the current day's lesson. You will collect these warm ups throughout the school year.  There might be days when we use writing we did for a warm up and continue to develop it.  It is important you label these and keep them organized in your binder.  The warm up will be posted on the white board.  It is your responsibility to enter class and get started.  

I begin with a warm up because it is the time for me to connect the conceptual idea of the lesson (like the theme we are reading or topic or main idea) and the skill we are practicing.  This connection is repeated in the conclusion.  It is posted in the classroom and as students enter and they write for three minutes (W.9-10.10).  We discuss for two (SL.9-10.1).  I set a timer because I want to get to the good stuff. 
Next, I will teach a mini lesson.  This will begin with us reading the objective of the day together.  If you look at the board, I have today's objectives written, "I can participate effectively in collaborative discussions," (SL.9-10.1) and "I can respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives by making new connections in light of information presented" (SL.9-10.1d).  During the mini lesson, I will model the skills  and tasks you will be doing that day.  You will have an opportunity to hear my thinking about texts and my own writing. I will share my thoughts and writing with you in the same way I expect you to share those thoughts with your peers and with me.  

I try to never exceed 15 minutes.  This is the biggest adjustment for teachers.  I have to decide ahead of time what specific skill I am teaching.  So let's say we are working on using text evidence to support analysis of characters(RL.9-10.1) (RL.9-10.3).  So now I have to figure out how I am going to model this process for students.  I think it is most effective when I model this skill with a cold read.  Perhaps I quickly read an excerpt from The Color Purple and I project it on the smart board.  As I read it aloud, I annotate it and share my thinking aloud with the students so that they get to hear and see my reading thoughts/voice.  Then I share with them the question.  Perhaps something like, "Describe Celie in this passage.  Explain her personality and what she wants.  Use textual evidence to support your analysis."   Then, I start writing on the white board or under a doc cam.  I write (W.9-10.9) a paragraph explaining my analysis.  I show the students how to use evidence from the text to support my analysis.  Perhaps I show them two ways to cite my evidence, either direct quote or paraphrasing.  
After the mini lesson, I turn the learning over to you.  For 20-30 minutes, you will think, read and write.  You will work in partners, small groups or individually.  While you are working, I will be having conferences with you.  I won't confer with each of you each day, but I will confer with you often.  During conferences, I will take notes.  These will help me plan future lessons and I will document your growth.  I'll share my notes with you so you're always aware of your growth.  

Student work time where I turn the room over to the students.  This lasts 20-30 minutes.  For example, the previous day we read "Harrison Bergeron" and today they are analyzing the character of Harrison.  As they work, I do NOT sit at my desk.  Rather, I walk around  conferring with students.  I think this looks differently in each classroom.  In my room, I quickly document conversations I have with students.  Some days I check in with students who are struggling with this skill or comprehension or vocabulary.  I might pull 3-4 students together and listen to them work on this task together.  Or I might sit down next to a student and ask them to show me their evidence and listen to them read from the text. Or I confer with students to assure they are citing their evidence correctly.  If I notice that many students are having the same issue, I might get the entire class's attention and repeat instructions or do a quick 1-2 minute reteaching of something on the board.   The formative data I collect helps me understand where I need to go next.  Do we need to practice this skill with another text?  Do we need to look at some examples?  Can we move on?  I collect my data on a sheet.  Some teachers use the iPad.  It takes me longer.  I just like writing with pen/paper.  
To end class, we will have a quick, three-five minute closure activity.  This might be an exit slip, a poll I ask you to complete, a conversation with a shoulder partner or you asking a question about the day's lesson.  

Here, I ask students to leave me with an exit slip or something else.  I often have students ask me a question about the assignment or about the skill.  This quick, formative data helps me plan for the next class period.  

Showing students what Reader's Workshop looks like

10 minutes

I will show students this Group Workshop video which demonstrates a group conference.   


10 minutes

I want students to respond to this new information (SL.9-10.1d) (W.9-10.10) I will project the first task on the board:

Please take a few minutes and share your thoughts about the Workshop Model and about your time in this class with a peer. 

I ask students to do this because I want them to validate their thoughts with those of a peers'.  After a few minutes, I tell them,

Now, I want you to put your thoughts into writing.  On a piece of paper, please respond to this prompt:  How do you feel about this year's English class?  Are you excited about your role in Workshop or do you have concerns?  Please share your thoughts with me and ask any questions you might have.  

I'll collect the papers as students leave.