It’s working. Workshop that is. I’d wanted to try the reading writing workshop approach in my secondary classes for sometime, but I’d always lacked the faith to turn so much responsibility over to my students. I didn’t trust them to stay on task. I didn’t trust myself to allow them to explore topics on their own. I didn’t think they would take advantage of the time I gave them to read and write during class. I was wrong. Very very wrong.
I started the school year with a different mindset than I’d had in the past. I studied all summer on how to create a workshop, student-centered classroom. I read Nancie Atwell’s In the Middle, Linda Reif’s Seeking Diversity, Ralph Fletcher’s Writer’s Notebook and thankfully had the chance to attend a training with Penny Kittle. I read her book Write Beside Them in one long sitting and knew that my philosophy on teaching had changed. I determined to give up the traditional model and turn to Workshop.
I currently teach juniors in AP Language and Composition and sophomores in English II. Both classes work pretty much the same way: student choice in what they read; student choice in what they write; lots of student talk about what they’re writing and what they think…and boy, is it enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring to learn what these kids think!