When I first moved from teaching middle school to teaching high school, I brought my workshop practice with me. At first, I was worried that this type of instruction wouldn’t meet the needs of my high school students, but it didn’t take me very long to realize that it was exactly what they needed. And I now know that the research supports the heck out of that. The Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing from NCTE, CWPA, and NWP outlines necessary instructional conditions for college-readiness that are centered on flexibility, engagement, and a robust, authentic writing process.
Still, I often found that, in order to grow in my practice, I was reading professional books geared toward elementary teachers and then interpreting how this might look when I leveled it up with bigger kids.
I had plenty of peers who were skeptical about the workshop approach, and plenty more who were intrigued, but just couldn’t invest in such a drastic shift – especially with so little support in the way of professional resources geared toward them as high school teachers. That’s one reason that I was beyond thrilled when I found Allison and Rebekah’s Writing With Mentors. It felt like someone was taking the work I’d learned from Katie Wood Ray, but was speaking the language of high school teachers.
And if I was thrilled to find Allison and Rebekah’s book, you probably can’t even imagine how beyond excited I was to become a part of the Moving Writers community. Not only did that give me an opportunity to really embrace my identity as a teacher who writes, but it gave me a whole community of teachers who were also speaking the language of secondary workshop! As a secondary workshop teacher, I didn’t feel so isolated anymore. We were all practicing some variation of writers’ workshop – but in so many different contexts. Some of us taught intervention while others taught AP classes. Some taught with workshop as the frame for their entire instruction, while others were dabbling it in throughout more traditional frameworks. But we could all problem-solve and learn and share together around the practice of writers’ workshop.
And that’s what our #NCTE19 session is all about. We’re bringing our different experiences and contexts together to offer a glimpse into the problems we’ve encountered, what’s worked for us, and strategies for how to build a secondary workshop that you can make work for you – wherever and however you are.
We’ll explore ideas around:
- Logistics for making it work with multiple sections
- Designing time and space for conferring
- Preparing students for AP timed tests within a workshop
- Workshop and co-teaching
- Balancing workshop and required reading
- Supporting writers of all levels of readiness
If you’re in Baltimore, join us Saturday at 2:45 in room 349! And even if you’re not, after our session, we’ll post our resources here, and we’d love to keep the conversation going. What’s worked for you? How are you building a workshop in your secondary context?