Q and A: Writer’s Workshop at the ESC of Central Ohio

On November 9, I facilitated a Writer’s Workshop at the Educational Service Center.  Below you will find the Q and A and some resources I use for the event.


During the workshop, we defined the importance of environment for the vulnerable work of sharing our writing together. The qualities the group determined were most important were: Courage, Purposefulness, and Respect, affectionately given the acronym CPR.

To begin, here is a link to the Power Point used in the workshop.  In addition, here are other resources you may find helpful:

Also, here are the TEDTalks from Brene Brown on vulnerability and shame that I mentioned.

And here is the Q and A from the exit tickets:

Do you come to schools to do professional development?  

Yes!  My primary work is directly with school districts providing professional development.  My website (here) is a great place to learn more about what I can do within a district.  Feel free to reach out and we can chat more about this.

How long does the Writer’s workshop process take?  

Plan 1-2 days to introduce the process- one day to familiarize students with the method and then a second day to do any warm up activity (like the narrative activity we did).  For the actual writer’s workshop, plan for one day per every seven or so students.  If you have a class of 21, plan for three full days of workshop, for example.

How could this work with IEP students who are just learning to write? (Or younger students?)   

They can read much shorter pieces and still participate.  Also, any level of students can be trained to give valuable feedback, as along as the feedback is based in the skills being taught in lessons before the workshop.  Maybe you are working with students on using details and the goal of the feedback is to choose one detail that helped to paint a picture and one place where more detail is needed.

The model that I presented is not an end-all-be-all model, but rather, a way of thinking about the ways we create communities that help one another to grow.  Feel free to take what works, modify what doesn’t, change to fit your audience.

How often would you use this model with students?  

You could use this model for every major writing assignment if you would like.  You can start by using the whole group method like we did in the workshop, then later students can be in small groups and the workshop will take up less time.  I would not move into that space until the students are ready, however.

How do you group students?  

It depends on the goals.  If you want students in the inner circle to be balanced, you can use heterogenous groupings based on introversion and extroversion.  You could also try placing all of the introverts in the circle together so that introverts are more inclined to participate and extroverts are less inclined to dominate discussion.

What strategies can you use for students who struggle to articulate their thinking?  

I would definitely suggest the use of statement and question stems.  In addition, silence is really important.  Letting students get comfortable with silence, combined with an understanding of a collaborative model where everyone’s voice is included, might create the space for those who need more time to think.  You can also take a minute after each writer presents to silently write one question and one piece of positive feedback before starting so that each person has a chance to think through what they want to say.

How can you keep the integrity of the process with 30 + students in the room?  

Someone suggested on an exit ticket that you could have half the class present their work for one writing assignment and half the class present their work for the next assignment.  I like this idea.  You could even make it part of the requirement that they present changes they made to the class in some way.

Also, it helps to keep in mind that this process will take time- no matter what.  However, remember all of the reading and speaking and listening standards that were addressed, too (see attached Power Point for information on these).  It is a worthwhile use of instructional time.

Would using technology negatively impact the process?

This question is in reference to putting students work on an LCD projector in Google Docs.  I see benefits to this.  I also see some defects.  Benefits: it could make it easier to follow the work.  Deficits: It could detract from eye contact and the emphasis on listening skills.  I say try it both ways and let me know what you think!


Please feel free to add any additional thoughts, suggesting, etc. in the comments section.


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