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Building Autonomy, Maximizing Class Time: Writing Workshop in Stations

I am in LOVE with this idea from Shelby Scoffield at Edutopia: Creating a Writer’s Workshop in a Secondary Classroom, published just yesterday.

In the article, she shares the station rotation model that she uses with her AP and Honors English students to elevate Writing Workshop to the secondary level.  She provides examples of stations (which you can see below) and descriptions of them.

edutopia-scoffield-writersworkshopsecondaryclassrm

In the comments section, she clarifies what she does as the teacher and facilitator of the Writing Workshop stations:

  • Beginning of class: spend a few minutes at each station:
    • explain the assignment
    • provide any important information they’ll need
    • answer any initial questions they have
  • During the rest of class: settle into the teacher-led table, where you’ll conduct a more in-depth lesson on a more difficult skill before those students apply that to their papers.
  • Once the in-depth lesson is complete (I would assume):
    • constantly make rounds and check in to eliminate the problem of students always needing your attention
    • Be sure to spend extra time at the tables where students are tackling specific skills.

At every station, students are learning and the applying what they learn to their writing. It still utilizes the basic elements of Writing Workshop with which we are familiar, just applies those in a different format.

Scoffield has not provided any specific information about rotation or how often they switch (these are also decisions we can make for our students and the management of our classrooms.).

Scoffield  has designed this for her AP & Honor students.  However, I think this is applicable and easily modifiable for all levels of students.  Some classes might just need more structure ahead of time and may need more practice in the model and feedback from their performance in Writing Workshop to gain the full benefits of it.  Still, I think it’s worth the effort because I think this Writing Workshop model could solve one of our biggest problems: classroom time.  And another: student autonomy.  Of course, we have to be smart and strategic about the station set-up so students are still getting what they need (and hopefully even more) from the process.

Here are my initial thoughts after reading the article:

Potential Benefits:

  • students can choose skills they need to work on, instead of a one-size-fits-all model of mini-lessons and mentor texts
  • students are in charge of their own learning and development in that they tell teachers what skills they need to work on or would like to work on
  • the onus is on the students – they choose the skill and then they have to do the work of learning at that station and then applying what they’ve learned
  • student choice will require self-awareness of their writing skills and awareness of what skills make writing great (and would work nicely with the portfolio process that the 12th grade teachers have implemented at TC)
  • 10-day Writing Workshop Units could be pared down to 4-5 days of stations
  • student-centered learning & differentiated instruction
  • better student products, less grading frustration

Possible Hiccups:

  • initial set-up, planning, and facilitation may be time-consuming, but if we work together and share materials for certain skills, that will be alleviated somewhat over time
  • classroom-management in more difficult classes (there is the possibility here to have me co-facilitate with you so that there is another person in the room to manage the process.)
  • physical space in the classroom – do we have enough? What other spaces could we use for an activity like this?

Shelby Scoffield is on Twitter, though (@sscoffield1), so maybe we can tweet our questions her way for clarification and tips!  You can also join the conversation below the article on Edutopia.

If you have additional ideas for stations (this somewhat depends on what students tell you they want to work on) or would like to try this in your classroom, let me know and I’d be happy to help you plan and facilitate them! You know how to find me. 🙂