Try it Tuesday:Workshop Thievery

Disclaimer: Theft is wrong. The end.

Steal is a strong word (pun very much intended). Borrow? Swipe? Thieve? Pinch?

That last one makes me feel like a 1930’s gangster, so we’ll go with that.

I’m here to confess that I’ve been pinching materials from this very blog, and I’m pathologically not remorseful.

Pilfering and plundering are practices most teachers subsist on, so it’s only natural that as the fearless English Department at Franklin High School begins its first official year of workshop instruction, we are lifting everything we can get our hands on.

And while the prospect of taking our fresh and shiny Understanding By Design curriculum templates and matching our standards based curriculum with the workshop delivery model is daunting (to say the least), it’s also afforded me an opportunity to look at countless new practices and bring added excitement to this new routine through new ways of helping students read and write everyday.

Faithful readers of the Three Teachers Talk blog.
I stand before you (or sit during my prep), a grateful swindler.

Today’s Try it Tuesday matches (snatches) Amy’s Blessings Cards (or an even more detailed and awesome Blessing Card Mini -Lesson here) with Shana’s Write-Around, and the reflections my students produced were fantastic.

  1. To support my belief that students preparing for in depth analysis, college/career readiness, the AP Language test, and life should know what’s going on in the world img_5673around them, part of my AP summer work is for students to sign-up for a news story as it breaks or develops over the summer.Students are to read several editorials about the topic and draw their own conclusions as to the impact this story has on a given community (either local, national, or international).As one of their first assignments of the year, they take their research on the topic and present a one minute speech to the class. The scores are formative, but they tell me a lot about students’ abilities in using text evidence to support a claim and the basic professional communication skills they do (or do not) possess.
  2. As a positive form of peer assessment during our very first public speaking opportunity, I used Amy’s idea of blessings cards. Each table grabbed a card for each presenter (I split speeches up over several days) and put his or her name on the card.When the speaker was finished and I was hurriedly writing formative feedback on the rubric, students talked at their tables and bullet pointed blessings on the speaker’s img_5672card. We had reviewed the rubric before speeches began, so students could provide positive feedback directly related to their assessment criteria. When all the speakers were finished for the day, we showered our presenters with blessings.Lots of smiles.
  3.  Once all of our speeches were complete, I shared several pictures from Shana’s post about write-arounds. We took a look at how writing/reflection can be guided by objects that give permanence to our experiences.
    I had students glue their blessings cards to a page in their response section of their writer’s notebook and then reflect on the experience. They could write about what they felt went well, goals for their future public speaking adventures, and/or anything that came to mind in relation to the experience.As I peeked over shoulders, I knew my stolen ideas were paying off for this reflection with such statements as:

    “Mrs. Dennis says that some people fear public speaking more than death. I know what she means. But this class seemed to think I had my act together though, so that’s cool.”

    “I’m never going to like this. I know it. I am never going to like public speaking. But I can get better at it.

    “I almost passed out up there. For real. But I had a notecard and it kept me basically organized. Next time, I’ll try breathing while I’m speaking. Maybe that will help too.” 

Classroom community and comfort within that community are not givens. Both must be built with intentionality. Workshop demands that we take time and honor the process around building readers, writers, and in this case, speakers to, because many of our students are not initially comfortable with the roles we are asking them to take on.

By examining the process with a growth mindset,  we put value upon the feedback that comes from not only the teacher, but peers and self reflection as well.  This feedback serves to support and motivate students as they move forward and start to become the community that will serve to encourage, challenge, and motivate better reading and writing throughout the year.

Steal these ideas. Please.

How do you encourage community building for your readers and writers? We would be blessed to have you share some ideas in the comments below.






3 thoughts on “Try it Tuesday:Workshop Thievery

  1. cmadeleine0816 September 27, 2016 at 7:55 pm Reply

    I love the idea of kids giving immediate feedback while you too are writing feedback. It lets everyone be more present and in the moment right after the person is done speaking. I’m curious….how did my forensics kids do? 😉 I am also thinking about incorporating the “blessing” activity into my next few class days with all my students. I think the specific feedback in writing is key.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth September 27, 2016 at 11:14 am Reply

    Assimilate is a better word as it is more what nearly all good teacherrs do. We take ideas from others and make them fit for our classrooms, our students, and for our own teaching styles.


    • shanakarnes September 28, 2016 at 5:25 am Reply

      I’d argue that you have to imitate before you can innovate…I think most teachers begin developing their own personal styles by mimicking the most effective teachers they know. Then, they assimilate all of those lessons and units and experiences into their own teaching philosophy and methodology.

      I know that before I came to my own version of the workshop model, I was really just hobbling along through the school year by cobbling together the lessons and assignment ideas of Tom Romano, Penny Kittle, and my other mentors. Stealing is an essential first step–assimilation and innovation are the fun next steps!

      Liked by 1 person

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