Wednesday, April 16, 2014

{Loving} Writing Workshop!

This is my 22nd year of teaching. In that time, I have taught grades 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12. {The middle grades are my absolute favorite to teach!}. For 19 of those years, I taught English; the remaining years were spent as a Language Arts teacher.

You see, a few years ago, my district was faced with serious budget cuts- as were most districts in PA. As a result, I found myself teaching LA. It was certainly an adventure. :) Though was grateful to have a job during a time when so many teachers were furloughed, I missed teaching writing.

So, fast forward to last summer. I was given a beautiful gift by my principal. He called to inform me that I was headed back to familiar territory- the English classroom! Currently, our middle school- grades 6-8- has two English teachers. During the first semester of the year, my coworker and I both taught 8th graders. The second semester we switched to 7th grade. Not an ideal situation, but I am NOT complaining, as I am thrilled to be back to doing what I love!

Wishing to completely change the way I teach English to my students, I began to research. One of the techniques I kept seeing repeatedly was the writing workshop. The more I read, the more obvious it became to me that this was exactly what I was looking for! I pitched the idea to my principals, continued to research every free moment I had, and planned extensively. Convinced I was ready, I jumped right in!

I admit, I was nervous about trying something new, but I figured if it could benefit my students, I needed to give it an honest try. Getting the kids to buy into the idea was so much easier than I thought it would be. Once they realized that they had ownership of the workshop, they were excited. Soon, I witnessed my students truly become writers.

I can't begin to put into words how exhilarating it is for me to watch my students grow as writers and become excited to write! They are becoming more familiar with the routine- mini-lesson, practice, application, and share. The application part is when they are writing, brainstorming, conferencing, and peer revising. This is what they really love! {So do I!}

I have lots more to learn, and I plan to continue researching so that next year, writing workshop will be even better. I SO love my job!

*If you are interested in some great writing workshop resources, check out these websites:

Teachers Pay Teachers- Starting Writing Workshop in Middle School: Common Core Aligned created by Kasey Kiehl

Writer's Workshop- Teaching that Makes Sense

Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers

A Writing Workshop: One Teacher's Approach- Always Write

Writing Mini Lessons- Ms. McClure's Class

The First 20 Days of Writer's Workshop: Intermediate Grades

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