Margin Notes

Welcome to Writing Workshop #CyberPD


As I continued reading Welcome to Writing Workshop for #CyberPD Week 2, I celebrated how the authors, Stacey Shubitz and Lynne Dorfman, make it explicit that the focus of establishing writing workshop is in the service of responsiveness to each student’s needsWelcome to Writing Workshop in order to foster independence. Although writing workshop provides a structure or framework for writing instruction, it is far from limiting or confining. Writing workshop, at the core, is designed to put student writers at the center, encouraging them to and providing the support they require to make their own decisions as writers. The ultimate goal is to create a space for students to live a writerly life.

Here are some of my favorite lines that I captured in my notebook while I read:

  • “The whole group setting is where teachers can set a positive tone by gathering the writing community for instruction. Here, we move students to independence by offering instruction through demonstration and guided practice. We share a mentor text, we present a piece of high-quality literature as an exemplar, and we model with our own writing. Our goal is to move students to independent practice as soon as possible so that the students are in charge, making decisions and self-regulating most of their work in writing workshop.”
  • “…in other words, being a responsive teacher is a great way to find things to teach during the whole class instructional time.”
  • “Dorfman and Capelli (2017) say that mentor texts help students move beyond their comfort zones—to take risks and stretch outside their ‘writing box’—and inspire student writers to reinvent themselves as writers, growing and changing in skill set, sophistication, and, we would add, in imagination.”
  • “If we want our writers to be successful, we need to give them the time to practice by actually writing. A regularly scheduled writing workshop—with time for sustained writing—gives students a chance to build their writing muscles. They can start to think about what they would like to write that day. They can talk about it with others before they write. They can plan “next steps” in their head. We cannot skimp on independent time because kids need uninterrupted periods of time to hone their writing craft to develop the stamina and endurance they need to be strong writers.”
  • “Independent writing time is a time when you want your students to live a writerly life. This time might help them envision other projects they might want to work on. Real-life writers are always engaged in multiple projects. Therefore, we think it’s important to provide your students with opportunities to have an ongoing project as their backup work. For some kids, it’s using their writer’s notebook as a playground. For other kids, it’s working in another genre.”
  • “…the one-on-one conference you hold with your students is time well-spent. Not only will you get to know your students better as writers, (and as people, too), but they will get to know you as a writer. Conferences are a way to build student confidence and resolve some anxieties. Writing is hard work, and some students will need a conference to cheer them on to do the necessary work to grow as a writer.”
  • “The true purpose of any conference is to move the writer, not the piece of writing, forward. It is here we can help every student find his writing identity so he believes he can write. We provide support and offer specific feedback. The relationships you forge during one-on-one conference time will help you find pathways to student learning and growth for every student in your classroom.”

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