By: Sheila Wolsker, Second Grade Teacher
Every teacher knows that students have different needs. Because of these needs, there will never be one set method that works for every child. Teachers can also agree that a curriculum that provides flexibility, choice, and time is crucial when it comes to developing literacy skills. A workshop approach to teaching reading and writing does just that. It encourages and enables readers and writers to flourish simply by motivating children to actually want to read and write.
So what exactly is a workshop approach? The workshop model is an incredibly efficient method of teaching reading and writing. Within the workshop model, teachers are able to address both the whole group’s needs as well as the needs of small groups or individual students.
A workshop model is made up of three key parts: the mini-lesson, work time, and share time or as I like to call it: I do, We do, You do. First, I teach the strategy and model it for my students. Then we do it together, and finally they do it on their own. The “Mini-Lesson” is where the teacher teaches the students a skill or strategy through demonstration and direct instruction. Children will typically gather together at the carpet during this time. It is important that the teacher follows a specific routine. The teacher will connect what the students learned yesterday to what they will learn today. Then she/he will teach the new strategy. During this time, teachers will give students a chance to “turn and talk” with others around them. The students will then take this information and apply it in “Work Time”. During this time, teachers will conduct small groups and individual conferences with students. Lastly, after work time, students will take part in “Share Time”. This is when students have the opportunity to share with the rest of the class how they used the skill or strategy just learned in the mini-lesson.
My favorite time of the day is reading and writing workshop. My students are on task and in charge of their learning. When you give students choices, let them work at their own pace and meet with them individually on a regular basis, behavior problems are dramatically reduced. I am giving them a voice. They feel trusted and empowered, and this results in a positive, strong teacher-student relationship. The workshop approach fosters a love of literacy. In order for students to grow as readers, we must provide them with actual time to read. The same is clear for writing. The Workshop Model frees up time by requiring teachers to change roles. Teachers are no longer showing an authoritative role. Instead, they are a facilitator of learning. Students are motivated because I am not telling them what they have to read/write. Instead, I am providing them with the tools they need to become successful readers and writers and more importantly life-long learners.
If you are still curious about the workshop approach, please take a few minutes to watch this short video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkloO4DAIpo