By Heather Rocco, The Educator Collaborative Network Member
Teaching writing is hard. Teaching writing to over 150 high school students is daunting. Students have so many needs, so many ideas, and so many words! How can we possibly reach them all much less teach them all?
Over the last several years I have explored how to effectively implement a writing workshop model into high school classrooms. If you are new to workshop, the basic workshop structure is as follows: teachers present a mini-lesson; students work on their writing; teachers conference with students; students share their learning with each other.
Now, I wholeheartedly believe in the workshop model, but it isn’t always as easy as this simplified outline sounds. Sometimes, I ramble during writing conferences, overwhelming students with suggestions. Other times I cannot recall what a student and I previously discussed. And so, so often, I repeat myself writing conference after writing conference. Over the years, though, I have discovered several organizational tricks to make writing workshop more efficient and effective, which, in turn, makes my students’ writing stronger. Here are a few ideas that were game changers for me:
- List the key skills you are teaching and post them…everywhere. I know, I know. We list them in unit or lesson plans. But we teach students not the administrators who check our plans. Students need frequent reminders of the skills they are developing, and they need to be bombarded with them. Write the skills on posters and hang them in your classroom. Post the list on your class web page …