Showing posts with label Atwell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Atwell. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where are the Workshop "How To's?"

What is most important to know about reading workshop? Some might say knowing what mini-lessons to teach is especially important. Others might think the format and how to set up a workshop is most significant. Activities students complete might be the choice from some that carries the most weight.

And the next question is, where should a blog called The Reading Workshop focus? Should it be on how a workshop looks and what activities take place? Or is it about students from classes in a workshop? I started thinking about this after I got this email.

I really like reading your blog . . .
Have you ever considered more posts with "how to's?" So many of your posts are about the students. I enjoy reading about them, but I think most teachers would like more on how to do reading workshop.

After reading this email a few times, and thinking about it for a couple of day, I thought about what controls my reading workshop day-to-day and how that has changed.
Originally it was the "experts." I read In the Middle and modeled my class after it. Today there are thousands of sites to get the "how to's." Nancie Atwell is still an excellent resource for the fundamentals of reading and writing workshop. The internet is filled with ideas for teaching, and examples from classes.

For me though, reading workshop starts and ends with the students. Every activity is only as valuable as it is relevant to the class I am teaching. The best book only matters if it reaches the student. And it is only the best book because of what it makes a student think and feel. The best lesson is only good because of how it impacts the class and the students. A good journal topic only matters if it lets a student share a thought, idea, or opinion that is meaningful to him.

It all starts and it all ends with the students. That should be the focus.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Poetry, Clerihew Poems

Writing Workshop will focus on poetry for the next two weeks. We began working with free verse poems. Students listed topics they were interested in developing. Next, they picked one and worked on a "So What?" This is based on Nancie Atwell's Lessons That Change Writers. Atwell talks about the importance of knowing, "Why are you writing that," and, "what is the point?" She wants writers to think about the lesson, meaning, and/or moral.

Mrs. Bower, the Educational Specialist that is in each day during Writing Workshop to help students, taught about how to write a Clerihew poem. This type of poetry has four lines and is often written about a person. The first two lines rhyme and the last two lines rhyme. The poem is meant to be funny, so after a week of gray days the students enjoyed the "comic relief" that writing them brought.

I once had a teacher named McGuire
Someday he will have to retire
That'll be a sad time when he bids us "Good Bye"
I'm so sure all the cute girls will cry!

Mrs. Bower shared this example for all of the students (and they thought this was soooo funny).

One of the tools we used to help find rhyming words was the website This website makes it much easier when students choose to write poems that rhyme.

Check back to see some of the best student work!