Margin Notes

Hacking The Writing Workshop


Angela Stockman defines future-ready writers as “courageous explorers who know how to sit with discomfort.  They’re other-centered and attuned to inequity and privilege.  They’re committed to learning more about those who are different from them and experiences they’ve never had, to create things that change the way people think and feel and live.  They consider the consequences of only writing about what they know.  They consider whose voices are missing, whose stories need to be told, and who is disenfranchised.  They write for the world, not for themselves or the small audiences they find inside of their classrooms, homes, and local communities.”  In Hacking the Writing Workshop: Redesigning with Making in Mind, Angela Stockman outlines ten hacks for creating environments where these writers develop:

  • Hack 1: Designing a Future-Ready Workshop
  • Hack 2: Recognize and Engage the Maker in Your Midst
  • Hack 3: Renovate Your Space
  • Hack 4: Create a Writer-Centered Workshop
  • Hack 5: Build a Better Notebook
  • Hack 6: Co-Create a Just-Right Curriculum
  • Hack 7: Make Room for Serious Play
  • Hack 8: Tinker Through the Process
  • Hack 9: Uncover and Share Learning Stories
  • Hack 10: Frame Better Feedback

Each chapter follows a consistent format:

  • The Problem
  • The Hack
  • What You Can Do Tomorrow
  • A Blueprint for Full Implementation
  • Overcoming Pushback
  • The Hack in Action
  • Supplementary Resources (accessed through QR codes)

This structure makes Hacking the Writing Workshop a very reader-friendly professional resource.  You can choose to read all of the hacks in order from 1-10 or you can dip in and out of the chapters based on your personal experiences and learning needs.  One of my favourite aspects is the pairing of the tips for getting started right away with the blueprint for fully implementing the hack.  This is a really skillful scaffold that invites readers to try it out while envisioning the steps for putting the hack into practice on a larger scale.  The classroom vignettes that demonstrate the hack in action are very effective and portray a range of grades and contexts.  The resources provided in each chapter are incredible.  We follow Angela Stockman (@AngelaStockman) on Twitter and she is truly one of the most generous educators around!

Across all of the individual hacks, a number of crucial ideas about writing and writers emerge. Hacking the Writing Workshop presents a vision for a space where the work is grounded in independence and authenticity; where decisions develop from design thinking, empathy, and close observations; where writing is multi-modal and created bit-by-bit rather than by a prescribed linear process; where writers are free to tinker and play with loose parts; and where all members of the writing community, including the teacher, document, reflect, and give and receive feedback.

Hacking the Writing Workshop is a celebration of the power of applying the principles of maker-centred learning to the writing workshop.  In the author’s words, it challenges us “to redefine what writing is and how we might help students create it inside the future-ready workshop.” We have one copy of Hacking the Writing Workshop and two copies of Angela Stockman’s previous book, Make Writing, to give away to three lucky ASD-W colleagues who share ways they engage students in writing in the comments section by April 5th!

3 Responses to Hacking The Writing Workshop

Leave a Reply