Reading-Writing Workshop Overview

This year I am radically adjusting the way I run my class. Inspired by Nancie Atwell’s In the MiddleI am jumping with my whole teaching heart into the workshop model. I expect this to be a process where I fail a lot and learn a lot. My goal is to record and share a lot of my initial thinking, successes, and roadblocks.

Overview of Reading-Writing Workshop

Writing Workshop: Students work on writing that matters to them. Students work in real-world, authentic writing genres. They produce 2 – 5 pages of writing weekly. They maintain a list of potential writing ideas so they are continuously working on a draft. They take notes on craft and conventions and apply the lessons to the writing. Students learn about writing as a process and formulate their own processes as writers. At least half of class time is spent with students writing. When a student finishes a given piece, he or she knows to work on something new—even if it is not required. Digital platforms are used for publication (LMS, Google Docs, Twitter, Kidblog). Assessment is based on writing growth and published final products. Students maintain a digital portfolio of completed writing in Google Drive.

Students must finish writing for the following purposes* 

  • 3 Express / Reflect 
  • 1 Inquire / Explore
  • 1 Analyze / Interpret
  • 1 Evaluate / Judge
  • 1 Take a Stand / Propose a Solution

*Writing purposes are from Write Like this by Kelly Gallagher, 2011

Reading Workshop: Students select books based on their own interests. Class time is dedicated to independent reading, conferences with teacher, and book talks. Students finish at least 3 books / quarter (college prep) or 6 books / quarter (honors). Students are expected to read 30 minutes daily (about 10 to 20 pages) outside of class. Students keep a weekly record of their reading progress and complete reading ladder reflection each quarter. Students record finished books on a digital Google form.

Important Concepts from Atwell (2015)

  • “Find topics and purposes that matter to who you are now, who you once were and who you might become.”
  • “Recognize that good writers build quality upon a foundation of quantity.”
  • “Work hard as a writer…play, explore, entertain, argue, apologize, advise, sympathize, criticize, interview, observe, imagine, remember, reflect, celebrate, express love, show gratitude…” (p. 51).
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