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Secondary Writing Workshop

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Matthew Meldrum

on 16 September 2013

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Transcript of Secondary Writing Workshop

Secondary Writing Workshop
What is Differentiation and why should I care?
"Teachers in Differentiated Classrooms are students of their students” – Author Unknown

We know that no two students are alike, and that what is great for one, maybe mediocre, at best for others in a classroom. One way to meet the needs of so many different minds is to focus less on teaching specific content, and more on setting up conditions for learning in the day-to-day structure; writer's workshop addresses so many of those needs.
Launching writer's workshop during the first six weeks
Start becoming a student of your students by finding out what literate behaviors your students already engage in. This can be done as part of an icebreaker, getting-to-know-you practice.

This allows students to see the wide variety of what it means to be a reader and writer in life beyond school, and shows them that you respect them. How can they learn from you if they don't respect you?

Write, Talk and Share with an elbow partner about what you think about this quote.
When I was in high school, they drug me into the principal's office and told me I had a lot of potential, but that I needed to learn how to study and make something of myself. And that's when I quit school. Because I realized that we weren't operating on the same level of reality. Because, you see, I knew that I already was something. --John Trudell, Native American activist and poet
A Child Said, What is the Grass? by Walt Whitman
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a

, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow

Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same....
So... Now What?
Since we know that learning thrives when we set up conditions that allow students to express themselves in an autonomous way, the class period should become more like a laboratory for thought and less like a puppet show, where the teacher holds the strings.

Guitar players learn to play by jamming, and studying other players whom they admire.
Readers learn to read by reading, all kinds of texts, written for various audiences and purposes; literate adults have wide range of tastes in what they read.
Writers (including students) learn to write by writing, all kinds of texts, for various audiences and purposes.
Notebook Do's
Do have students:

write in it during and outside of class
date their entries
use the medium that encourages them to write most easily (i.e. paper, or electronic)
leave white space in an entry for layering meaning later
try different writing and thinking experiments
take mini-lesson notes and vocab that they're studying in the notebook (optional)
Notebook Don'ts

restrict access to notebooks by storing them in the room
ever grade for correctness in a notebook (a workbench-implies a work in progress)
occasionally give them "free write" time, after they are finished with the "content" of the lesson.

A writing cycle over a six weeks
Collecting in a notebook; living a writing life:
Finding a topic/
Collecting around a topic
Students choose a topic by re-reading and layering meaning over previous entries (white space). Focus is on all subsequent entries to be about that chosen topic. This may be when they begin to choose their mentor texts in the genre of their piece (teacher can make suggestions and whole-class reading can help).

Designing a text for an audience/drafting rapidly
Students begin to make pre-drafting mission statements, thinking intentionally about audience, purpose , message, occasion and begin to draft outside of the notebook. Notebooks can be collected for a grade.
Students may begin peer conferences to test out ideas
Process, Product
Revising and Editing
Students take feedback from peers (or ignore it) and begin the process of seeing their piece in a different way through guided exercises (mini-lessons). This may lead to more drafts. Students should not edit --mostly for correctness and surface features until the final stages of a draft. They may continue to use a mentor text to help guide their efforts.
Process, Product
Publishing to an audience
and self-reflection/
A writing cycle is complete. Students have a publishing party such as a gallery walk, reading (hopefully with other adults beside the teacher) and/or public event (even a digital public event) Students then write about how the process went for them and what they learned about themselves as writers. This can be used as part of the assessment.
They freewrite until they have about 10-15 entries. The content/reading half of class is where they begin whole-class readings in the genre to be studied and may begin to think about choosing mentor texts.
Process and
This is the writer's notebook on block schedule
In a typical, average-length, non-test-taking, day, the 90 minutes should look something like this:
Intro/reading/shared-inquiry/content-40 minutes
mini-lesson (about writing process, vocab, grammar, observations gleaned from their writing)-10 minutes (tops!)
Writing workshop (kids write, you
/peer conferences)-40 minutes
Tips on conferring with students
While students are writing the teacher is conferring - interrupting students to interview them about what they are working on.
keep it short (5 minutes tops)
get down at their level and their desk in your rolling chair(no sage on stage)
have them read their work to you (establishes them hearing their writing voice)
take notes (post-its) and keep them with student folder
talk to them about a singular writing issue - this may lead to whole-class mini-lessons later
Full transcript