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7 Moves in My Workshop Schedule

Quite often teachers ask me what the daily schedule looks like in my workshop classroom.

This is a hard one. I think mainly because it is not about the schedule as much as it is about the routines, or manners, we start putting into place at the beginning of the school year.

I’ve had a lot of adapting to do this year. Moving to a new school and adjusting my lessons to fit 85 minute class periods where I see my students twice a week for sure and every other Friday — sometimes. This is quite a change from 50 minute class periods where I saw my students five days a week.

Our normal routines  — and these are non-negotiables that make workshop work — consist of reading, conferring with readers, talking about books, writing in our notebooks, revising in our notebooks, sharing a bit of our writing, and learning or reinforcing a skill, then….it all depends on our workshop task. That’s why writing about my daily schedule is hard.

Here’s the best I can do without going into a long explanation — that has to wait for my book (Penny keeps telling me that my book will never get written if I keep writing on this blog, and I know she is right. Only so much time.)

READ — 10 to 15 minutes. This is sacred and silent reading time. Students choose books that interest them. I CONFER with my readers, always with a specific focus, depending on my reader.

TALK about books. Sometimes I do a book talk, reading a few pages of the book, or holding a book interview like Erika does. Sometimes a student does a book talk, if I’ve talked to her first and know she’s passionate about the book she’s just read. Sometimes I ask my students to just talk about the books they are reading. Shana wrote about the Value of Talk, and I agree completely: “Talk is one of the most valuable tools at work in my classroom.”

WRITE in our writer’s notebooks. Everyday we need to have our students thinking on paper. When I forget, or think we do not have time, to open our notebooks and write — in response to a poem, or a video, or a story, or about the book students are reading, or about whatever — I regret it. Discussions are richer when we write first. Discoveries are more insightful when we write first. Writing is better when we write, just thinking about our ideas, first.

Then, something I learned from Penny Kittle, we always read what we wrote and REVISE. Penny modeled revising with a different color, and I ask my writers to do the same. I simply say, “Read over what you just wrote. How can you make your writing better? Maybe add a phrase or two that develops your thinking more. Maybe change a word or two that adds a punch. Maybe you can remove some words and make your thinking more concise. Where can you add figurative language or a list or an interesting style move?” (When I check writer’s notebooks, I always look for evidence of revision. We work on establishing the habit of revision, daily.)

SHARE some of our thinking. Sometimes we pair up and read our writing to a shoulder partners. Sometimes I ask for volunteers to share out their writing. Sometimes I randomly call on someone (and I usually allow them to opt out at least once if they are uncomfortable reading aloud). Sharing is an important part of our community, and from the first day of school we work on establishing a safe and respectful environment where we can all grow as readers and writers.

Learn or reinforce a skill via MINI-LESSON. (If I introduce something totally new, like one of the AP English Language exam prompts, obviously the mini-lesson will not be so mini. On these days, the mini-lesson time and the workshop time allotment swap places. Sometimes I need the focused direct instruction time because it saves time in the long run.)

Our routines usually take about 35 to 45 minutes. That leaves us about half the class period to hold a workshop. This might be a readers workshop if we are practicing close reading or if we are preparing for a Harkness discussion. This might be a writers workshop if we are composing a piece of writing or studying the moves of a favorite author.

Of course, if we are writing, I change my hat and confer with my writers.

I would love to know the workshop routines you establish with your readers and writers. Please share in the comments.

©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015

 

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20 thoughts on “7 Moves in My Workshop Schedule

  1. mrsturnerblog June 19, 2017 at 7:05 pm Reply

    Please hurry up and write your book! (Like write it and get it published and into my hands before the next school year! 😂😂) I’m planning to switch to full workshop model this year–I played with it some last year–and I’m just trying to get my head around it. We’re in 53 minute classes. Last year we read every day for 10 min and talked about books unless we were doing an in-class essay (esp in AP Lang) when they needed the whole time to write. I’m still thinking and tinkering. 😊

    Like

  2. […] of learners. They will practice the moves of real readers and writers as teachers practice the routines of readers-writers workshop and read and write beside their students. Besides the obvious benefit for students, teachers will […]

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  3. […] wrote about 7 Moves in My Workshop Schedule a while ago. These moves are non-negotiable:  read, confer, talk, write, revise, share, […]

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  4. Stacy Horton July 27, 2015 at 2:45 pm Reply

    Is it possible in 48 minutes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy July 27, 2015 at 5:34 pm Reply

      Yes. Try it.

      Like

    • Amy July 30, 2015 at 3:41 pm Reply

      Stacy, play with the time for all these things. You will find a balance that works for your students.

      Like

    • Rebekah O'Dell June 19, 2017 at 7:33 pm Reply

      I’ve done it for years in 48 – you can do it!!!

      Like

  5. Cate July 21, 2015 at 8:44 pm Reply

    I second Jesters1&11. I would love to see a post on how you scheduled the workshop in a shorter class period.
    Thanks for all of the information that you provide about WW. I am excited to be getting started with it in a Pre-AP tenth-grade course this coming year!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jesters1&11 June 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm Reply

    Thanks to LitReader, I am following your blog. I have ordered Penny’s book and can’t wait to read it and figure out how to use this in my own classes. What I find most exciting is the application of it in the AP Language class. I hadn’t even considered it for my AP kids. Thank you.
    Do you have any older posts about scheduling workshop in a 50-minute class period that I should read?

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  7. […] time, talking, reading, writing, conferring, modeling, sharing, publishing. I wrote about these 7 Moves in My Workshop Schedule recently. Our presentation at NCTE last fall was all about starting and maintaining workshop in […]

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  8. […] Three Teachers Talk has a terrific post describing seven moves in a workshop classroom schedule. […]

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  9. cmadeleine0816 May 19, 2015 at 8:47 pm Reply

    Just this year, I made one of the best decisions I think I have made yet in my (tiny) 8 years of teaching. After attending a Penny Kittle workshop in WI, I decided to jump right into reading workshop and thought “let’s just see how things go!” I kept it simple this year and stuck to reading 10 – 15 min every day and conferring with readers during that time. I love it. I absolutely love it. In the past, I’ve been pretty good at coming up with unique/helpful/beneficial bell work. But sometimes I felt like I was rushing either at the end of the day or the next morning to photocopy something or find a video or come up with a really creative journal entry topic. But this year, I thought no. I want simplicity and consistency. Read your book. That’s all I want and need you to do. I teach mostly freshmen, and oddly enough, some of them right now in May, still have to be reminded to pick up their book and read. But they just eye me with disdain/disgust and saunter back to their chair, picking up their book with a sigh. I smile and say thank you to them because I know it may not be their favorite thing, but in my room – we read. I’ve also established the routine that when you finish work and are waiting for the next activity or set of directions, you read your book. Finally – kids are picking up their books instead of their phones when they don’t have anything to do. It’s phenomenal. I’m so excited for next year already so I can tweak my routines and add a bit more!! Thank you for this post because it will guide me in the right direction.

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    • Amy May 21, 2015 at 2:49 pm Reply

      I wish I would have understood the power and importance of independent reading at the beginning of every class period when I first started teaching. I would have saved myself a lot of hassle with getting my freshmen settled in for the class period. It took me a long time to figure out my next steps in terms of using the self-selected books to learn literacy skills and not just read. I thank Penny Kittle for a lot of the help in that area. Sounds like you are close to being ready to do more than just get kids reading. Thank you for the comment and best blessings to you and your readers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • cmadeleine0816 May 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm Reply

        Thank you!! A wonderful thing happened today also. For our final exam, my coworker and I are having our freshmen make a power point and present to the class about which book had an impact on them, challenging/influencing their thinking in some way. I made my own power point, video taped myself presenting, and had the kids watch the video for homework. One student emailed me to share her already started google presentation. I thanked her and stated how impressed I was that she had started already to which she replied, I love the final exam and I’m so excited for it and I love the book I chose for my nonfiction challenge and I can’t stop thinking about it. *squuuuuuueeeee* English teacher’s dream!!!!! 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Abbe May 19, 2015 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Starting to shift high school ELA courses towards workshop, this blog post helped me wrap my brain around using this model at a high school level. With so much out there focused on K-8, this a a great visual for moving forward!! Thanks for sharing:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy May 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Abbe. Believe me, I’ve been on the hunt for high school workshop resources for years. I am glad I can help you.

      Like

  11. Amber Counts (@mrscounts) May 18, 2015 at 10:58 am Reply

    “We work on establishing the habit of revision, daily.” – How powerful! Modelling how revision works, and reinforcing that it is a natural and beautiful part of the writing process, is one of the most important things I think we can do in the English classroom. I remember my high school English classes, in which I was taught that revising and editing were part of the same obscure step in the 5-paragraph essay. I thought that I really didn’t need that step because I wrote pretty darn well the first time. I don’t fault my teachers – because they obviously hadn’t experienced the power of workshop themselves – but how I wish I had understood what revision meant, how to use it, and that it wasn’t punitive but a chance to be my best writer-self! Thank you for the glimpse into how you incorporate these practices, and reminding all that they are not a waste of time but rather a crucial part of the reading, writing, and thinking process.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ruth May 18, 2015 at 9:53 am Reply

    Consider the extra A as A+!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ruth May 18, 2015 at 9:52 am Reply

    AAmy, what a gift you are to teaching and, of course, as a friend. You make me so proud to hhave spent my called life as a teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Erika B. May 18, 2015 at 9:48 am Reply

    Amy,

    I love this post! I also know how hard it is to put into ‘writing’ our workshop agendas/schedules. A colleague of mine just asked me to do the same so I’ll be forwarding this piece along to her.

    The beauty of the model is the flexibility and ‘wide open space’ to workshop -> thinking, reading, revising, rethinking, reworking, playing, etc. Really, my most favorite.

    Thanks friend,
    E

    Liked by 1 person

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