Monday, November 5, 2007

The Philosophy and Principles of Writer's Workshop

The philosophy and principles of writer's workshop create a learning environment that does the following...

  • Encourages independence

  • Gives the young writer a high degree of choice within a framework

  • Has procedures that are consistent for both materials and movement

  • Structures the environment to encourage writers to take risks and learn their craft

  • Provides a scaffolding support system to all writers

  • Gives students frequent response to their writing

  • Has a regular and predictable time to write and amount of time

  • Gives students direct instruction in writing by different methods; whole class, small group, individual

  • Uses literature to teach students the craft of writing

Take some time to ponder each point above. How do the philosophies of writer's workshop differ from the traditional way you've been teaching writing?

Moving into the writer's workshop model requires you to change some of your basic beliefs about the best way to teach writing. In a sense, it requires you to "let go" of some of your control as a teacher and hand many of the choices over to the children themselves. Sometimes this can be hard for teachers to do. We're used to making the majority of the choices about what our children do. In writer's workshop, your children will be making the choices of what they want to write about. You may be giving them a framework to work within, but the ultimate choice of what to write will be theirs. This choice is a major shift from our traditional way of teaching writing in which we give children prompts to write from. It is this choice that motivates the children to write and starts them on a path of writing well. Think about it....when would you do your best writing? When given a prompt to write from? Or when you could choose to write about a special moment with a person dear to you?

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