The Writer's Workshop
The writing workshop is an approach to teaching writing that is research based and student centered, where children write about topics of their choosing within different writing genres. The workshop features extensive teacher modeling, using authentic literature to model great writing, large blocks of independent writing time during which the teacher conferences with students, and time for student writers to share with other members of the classroom writing community among others. Students choose a work to publish at the end of each unit of study which shall last about one month.
Much of the work and development of the workshop method has been done by Lucy Calkins and a team of staff developers and practitioners at the Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. The teachers College Reading and Writing project has been the national leader in teaching writing for many years. The best-selling and most influential authors on writing instruction were students or staff on the project. Thousands of teachers, administrators and policy makers from around the world take part in workshops, institutes and classes held at the project. The workshop is used extensively in New York City Public Schools and in districts and schools around the nation and the world. The information in the units of study books that Glassboro teachers are using as guides comes from years of collaboration with teachers who have slowly and steadily built the curricular calendar through a process of revision and refinement in the field.
Students keep a folder of completed work and work in progress. They also use a writer’s notebook which is where they record thoughts and ideas for future writing or “seed ideas”. The workshop lasts for 60 minutes each day, every day. At the end of a month long unit, student writing is packaged and sent home to parents. Both the students and the teacher are active participants in writing, living what Calkins call “the writerly life” developing a sense and understanding of the way a writer views the world. The unit culminates with a celebration of student work where student writers share their writing with fellow classmates, schoolmates, family and friends.