When I wrote several weeks ago about how we went about building a reader/writer workshop, one of the traits we focuses on was “Collaboration.” Our Lesson focus for that day was, “I want you to know that members of this workshop community…”
We started our 55 minute class with reading, briefly visited a poet moment, and then dove into three practical rotations with texts where we explored ways collaboration can help us be better readers and writers. We used three short excerpts that we had already explored in building other parts of our workshop.
First Rotation: Talking is rehearsal for writing.
Text: You Don’t Know Me excerpt from Sherman Alexie
1st Move: Read the following excerpt and think about what the author does that you don’t do.
2nd Move: Starting with desk 1, take one lap around your group, sharing what you noticed.
3rd Move: Find a place in your notebook near this piece and write about what you shared with your group.
4th Move: Think about how hearing from others before you write serves as rehearsal for your writing. 1 or 2 students share out to the class.
Second Rotation: Writing is a rehearsal for talking.
Text: If I Were in Charge of the World
1st Move: Read the following poem and think about something in it that surprised you.
2nd Move: Find a place in your notebook near this piece and write about what you noticed in this poem that surprised you.
3rd Move: Starting with desk #2, take one lap around your group sharing the ideas about which you wrote.
4th Move: Think about how writing about something serves as a rehearsal for you to share. 1 or 2 students share out to the class.
Text: Ready Player One excerpt
1st Move: Read the following excerpt and think about how the last line of the third paragraph makes you feel.
2nd Move: Starting with desk #3, take one lap around your group sharing how the words in the third paragraph affected your feelings in relation to the piece. Share in the opposite direction this time.
3rd Move: As a group, construct a sentence using Earnest Cline’s sentence as a model, that mimics the complexity of the feelings.
4th Move: Think about how working together can take us further than we can go by working alone.
Write about how you can use collaboration to support your growth as a reader and writer. Write so fast that your inner critic can’t slow you down.
This lesson cycle was all about teaching the students about collaborating, a crucial skill in a workshop. Eight weeks later, they can zip around their groups, sharing their thoughts, asking questions, blessing each other’s writing, and they do so effectively and efficiently. This may not be the best way to accomplish our goal, but it worked for us.
Please comment below if you’ve had success teaching collaboration or if you just want to chat.
Charles Moore loves working with his students in their reader’s/writer’s workshop. His divides his time between school, home, and his son’s robotics practices which are three days a week for a total of 11 hours. He is currently doing a terrible job keeping his grass cut and his pool pristine. He promises to work harder. If you’d like to see his somewhat nicely written book reviews check out his book review blog and if you want to see his numerous and random tweets, check out his twitter.