Friday, October 22, 2010

On Writing Workshop

To teach writing to grade 7s and 8s, I use Writing Workshop, an instructional style invented by American middle school teacher Nancie Atwell, who outlined the strategy in the hugely influential In the Middle, a book I read in teacher's college. In the Middle is all over the Ontario Language Arts Curriculum.

These are the basics of writing workshop:
  • Students select their own topics for writing and their own books for reading.
  • Throughout the year, they write and read in a variety of genres, about a variety of topics, for a variety of audiences.
  • The teacher does not provide prompts for writing, does not set hard deadlines, and does not assign books.
The teacher must:
  • Conference with students one-on-one, daily.
  • Respond to student writing and provide editing suggestions.
  • Show students examples of excellent writing.
  • Share his/her own writing with students.
  • Teach mini-lessons.
The student must:
  • Produce at least three to five pages of rough draft each week and bring at least two pieces of writing to completion every six weeks.
  • Produce, by the end of the year, a finished piece in the following areas: short story, three to five poems/songs, a profile of local citizen or an op-ed piece or essay about an issue that matters to them, a book review, and a memoir.
  • Attempt publication.
I love Writing Workshop, so I'll post some of my own mini-lessons over the next little while.

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