Writing Workshop Basics

What is Writers Workshop?

Before journeying through this site, please read this blog. Also check out Kristin Bond's blog on Moving Writers. And here's a series of videos that provide a window into writing workshop at the middle/high school level.

Do you teach middle school? Want some ideas for writing workshop? Check out MiddleWeb.

Writing Workshop: What is it?

“But the core of a workshop – the heart, the marrow – is kids putting words on paper.” --Ralph Fetcher and JoAnn Portalupi (2001)

  • In much the same way a pottery, jewelry, or furniture workshop operates, a writing workshop attempts to provide all the tools, materials, and resources that will help an artisan to create a desired product – in this case, a piece of quality writing. Unlike a furniture, jewelry, or pottery workshop, however, the workers in the writing workshop are all apprentices and the workshop supervisor, the teacher, is more concerned with the growth of the artisans in their craft than in the polished quality of each individual work produced. --Blasingame and Bushman

  • A writing workshop is a regularly scheduled, substantial chunk of class time when students work on self-chosen pieces of writing. --Zemelman and Daniels

  • The fundamental assumption of the workshop as educational institution is clear: this is learning by doing, learning through practice, aided by modeling and feedback from a master practitioner. --Zemelman and Daniels

  • The idea behind Writer’s Workshop is simple: if we know from experience that a workshop approach to the teaching of writing works well for aspiring professional writers, why shouldn’t we use this approach in our classrooms? As in a professional writer’s workshop, each student in the class is a working author. The teacher is a writing professional and peer coach, guiding authors as they explore their craft. --Steve Peha

  • What does it look like when students are doing the work of thinking? The work of achieving? The work of becoming better human beings? Literally and metaphorically, it looks like a workshop, a place where works – concrete demonstrations of understanding – are created. --Sam Bennett

Curious about curriculum?

Here's a unit from Oakland in Michigan for 6th grade on the literary analysis essay. Below is a link to Common Core aligned units. Some are based on the workshop model while others are more teacher-directed.

And here's the 2017-8 calendar of units from Teacher's College, Reading and Writing Project

2017-2018 TCRWP Below Benchmark Sequence of Units.pdf

Want more? check out these blogs...

Two Writing Teachers

Moving Writers

Three Teachers Talk

How about writing workshop in kindergarten? Launching the writing workshop in Kindergarten and Little Minds at Work

Fundamentals of Writing Workshop K-8

Resources from Three Teachers Talk

Take a look at this from Moving Writers about Rebekhah's overview document. It'll give you an idea about a unit of study, mini-lessons, and assessment.

Want to watch a very provocative video? Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher discuss the teaching of writing with John Warner, author of Why They Can't Write. It's the video for Day 12 (and all the videos are fascinating to watch.)