Ever since I read Write Beside Them, I have been on the hunt for the perfect primer to writing workshop — the big, broad strokes. The definitions of all the workshoppy words in one place. Ideas for how to set up the classroom. The gist of what a mini-lesson should sound like and what students should be doing during independent writing time. What should it all look like anyway?
As a newbie to workshop years ago, I wanted this book. Later, I wanted this book to hand to administrators. Now, I want this book for the teachers I support who are interested in writing workshop but need a one-stop-shop to introduce them to the basics.
Happily, Stacey Shubitz and Lynne Dorfman have written that book in Welcome to Writing Workshop: Engaging Today’s Students with a Model That Works. In around 200 pages, this book does it all:
- Defines writing workshop and common workshop jargon
- Shares ideas for classroom environments and structures that help workshop work
- Provides ideas for building writerly community & share sessions
- Describes common routines and rhythms of workshop classrooms
- Gives suggestions for managing whole-class and small-group instruction and conferring
- Shows what independent writing time should look like
- Discusses how instruction in grammar, conventions, and spelling work within the workshop model
But y’all, one of the things I love so much about this book is not just its incredible breadth, but also the layers upon layers of goodness that exist beyond the primary text. The appendix includes copies of forms you’ll want to help you get started. QR codes throughout the book link to detailed information about topics ranging from pencils versus pens in workshop and paper choices to Two Writing Teachers blog posts and video demonstrations from a variety of teacher’s classrooms.
And online, readers can find 35 videos with classroom teachers and administrators as they explore even deeper levels of workshop understanding through their classroom experiences.
After finishing Welcome to the Writing Workshop, I immediately grabbed my phone to order copies for the teachers in my school who are intrigued by workshop but need a bird’s eye view before they feel comfortable jumping in. This isn’t just a book for elementary teachers, though. Like all good things workshop-related, this book is easily scaffolded up for older students! Sure, the classroom seating might look different in 12th grade than in 2nd grade, but the rhythms and routines of writing workshop remain the same regardless of students’ age.
In a sea of so much professional writing, it’s hard to find a book — even a book I love — that I feel like I will recommend forever. Stacey and Lynne’s Welcome to the Writing Workshop is one of those books — a text that I will constantly reach for to answer colleagues’, administrators’, and even parents’ questions about workshop fundamentals .
We’re giving away a copy of Welcome to the Writing Workshop! Leave a comment below and we will draw one winner on 5/15!