A low student/teacher ratio, an emphasis on writing in all subject areas, the freedom to explore individual student interests, an ability to study elements of short stories in depth, and the opportunity to learn from the differing perspectives of students in other grade levels all make this program different from the conventional classroom.

Writing Workshop is a place for kids to be writers -- not for working on assigned topics, or "creative writing" exercises, but a place where they will have time to work on writing as adult writers do:

Finding topics which interest them;

Sharing their works-in-progress with each other;

Giving and receiving peer responses to ideas, style, and structure of pieces;

Learning how to give constructive criticism to themselves as well as to their peers;

Learning skills and techniques of writing in the context of their own stories, poems, and pieces;

Learning new methods of expressing ideas through hearing what others have written, and by sharing the insights they've gained in their own writing.

Writing Workshop is a process-oriented class in which students learn to select writing topics, draft, edit, give and receive response, revise, redraft, and refine their writing at their own pace.

Students have a "draft folder" in which they keep all drafts of their work. Included in the folder is a personalized "skills list" -- a list of grammatical or technical errors that have occurred in each student's writings, and for which the student agrees to be responsible in future edits.

Students typically rework two or three drafts of a piece, receiving response from peers, before they turn in a draft for "teacher editing." At this point, the piece is as polished as they can make it. Often, two or more drafts are necessary before the piece can go into the student's "final folder".

The Process -- Writers:

rehearse (find an idea) * * * draft one / confer * * *draft two / revise / confer (repeat these steps as often as necessary, revising and redrafting until writer decides that content is complete, and says everything s/he wants it to say.) * * * decide content is set * * *self-edit (Only now does the writer edit for spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar errors.) * * * teacher edit / revise (Content should be complete by this point, and revisions should be concerned with mechanics and specific editing items) * * * Publish.

The features of teacher/peer or group response provide students with feedback on a piece as it is being written, when such help is most useful to them. One of the great advantages of Writing Workshop is that students are not assigned topics; by choosing what and how they write, they become incredibly invested in their pieces.

Students in North Fork School Core Programs use the Writing Workshop process as they learn the basics of academic writing. Unlike the younger students, who direct their own selection of topics, Core Program students are more limited in their choices; as they learn the elements of focused essay-writing, they find more time to spend on creative pieces of their own choosing.

Sample mini-lessons:

Revising Techniques ~ ~ Modeling response ~ ~ Self-editing ~ ~Being your own best critic ~ ~ First Person Narratives ~ ~ Reports: taking notes, webbing ideas, formal outlines, bibliographies ~ ~ Interviews: questions that work, being interviewed, "the scoop" ~ ~ Letter forms ~ ~ Timed essays

Poetry: diamante, free verse, metaphors/similes, personification, onomatopoeia, Haiku & Tanka, counting syllables, Tercet & Quatrain & Cinquain

Grammar: using paragraphs, using colons & semi-colons, why is spelling important?, apostrophes, active vs. passive verbs, subject & object pronouns

Radio scripts ~ ~ Elements of Fiction ~ ~ Sound Effects ~ ~ Illustrations & Cartoons

 

 

 

 

photo licensed by Creative Commons: Waiting to Write by Angie Garrett