Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Writing Workshops

Today I started reading Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide by Ralph Fletcher and JoAn Portalupi. I was excited to start this read because I've never participated in a writer's workshop and frankly, I didn't really know what they are. I'm only about 4 chapters in, and I can already see the benefits! One thing I didn't realize is that in the workshops, students are writing whatever they want with no assignment from the teacher. That surprised me because I can't remember a time when I was in a classroom and had free reign to write whatever I wanted in whatever way I felt. I can see how this method encourages creativity and allows the student to truly own their writing. I think the unfinished writing folder is a great idea! Personally, there are times when I feel like I could write a thousand pieces on countless different topics, and then there are days when I have no idea what to write about. I can see students having the same problem. The four squares where students can write topics down at any time will help them organize their thoughts and provoke ideas for the present and the future.

The one concern I had was that the majority of what I read seemed to come from an elementary school perspective where the teacher has full control of the students for the entire day. I'm curious as to how a writer's workshop translates into a middle and high school setting where students change classes every hour. It seems like it would be almost impossible to devote 3 entire class periods each week to the workshop setting. With all of the standards and objectives that need to be met in the language arts curriculum, how does a high school teacher incorporate an effective writer's workshop without neglecting other areas?

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