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Writers Workshop

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago


Discussion of Chapter 6: The Opportunities in a Writer's Workshop


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Comments (11)

Anonymous said

at 8:26 am on Jun 27, 2008

There is so much in this chapter that I may have to take it on in more than one post. I enjoyed reading the first day handouts that Penny provides for her students. I am sure that we all hand out similar items and go over them with the students, but I have never thought to use those pages as the first lesson in how to read like a writer. In addition to the syllabus and first day information, I will also be handing out colored pencils to my new students.
I am wondering how Penny deals with and motivates the student who is not reading the 100-150 pages a week and if there are any concessions made for IEP students, and what homework is given to the parents on the first day. I am always looking for additional ways to bring my parents into the classroom.

Anonymous said

at 8:29 pm on Jun 29, 2008

Hi Jodi, a couple answers.... I have students read for 10 minutes in their book and determine how many pages they can comfortably read in that time. Then we calculate how many pages they should read in two hours of homework reading a night. That way they can make a 'good faith effort' at their own ability level. However, I set the '100 pages' a week goal so that all will work to read more than usual. We keep track of reading rate throughout the semester and every student's goes up because they're reading more. I wish I had time to tell you about one of my IEP students this semester... in a quick summary, she started reading story/poetry (Sold was her first novel in verse) and from there started reading and reading. She was motivated, although dyslexic, but she improved a lot. She had been faking it for years, and since she chose books she could read, she started to work at it and improve.

Parent homework is to write me a letter telling me about their son/daughter. I ask them to tell me things about them that will help me be a better teacher, to tell me a few family stories, tell me about their prior success with English, etc. I usually get about 50% to respond.

The colored pencils are awesome. I keep them in containers at the center of the tables at all times.

Stacey Kerr said

at 7:24 am on Jun 30, 2008

Obviously, with the title of the book, it always has to come back to modeling. But I can't help but be drawn in and motivated by how much of the success of this "method" depends on my own integrity as a teacher-writer. It's funny, Penny mentions the thing that she heard at a workshop once--a teacher may be the only adult the students see reading. I heard that too, when I was being trained to teach the "Ramp Up" program in NYC. Since then, I've been really committed to reading in front of my students. I talk to them about how I write--but only when I'm in a phase when I am writing. Everything from the injunction to write just one line, to write beyond distraction in the beginning of the chapter, to the seven principles, to the first day handout, is speaking to ME as a writer (and a sheepish nonwriter) before it is speaking to me as a teacher. Teacher, teach thyself. ;)

Stacey Kerr said

at 7:25 am on Jun 30, 2008

@Jodi I'm so with you on the colored pencils! I loved that idea.

Anonymous said

at 11:35 am on Jul 2, 2008

Penny, thank you for answering those questions! I'm sure I'll have several more to follow.

Anonymous said

at 7:26 pm on Jul 9, 2008

In addition to the colored pencils, I also want to incorporate Penny's poster ideas. I really like the visual for future reference for both present and absent students. Reading this chapter makes me think of many of the mistakes I have made while having my students write in previous years. I have fallen into the trap of just needing/wanting an organized and quiet classroom when things are really busy. Never should I have penalized my students because of my hectic coaching, teaching, meeting schedule. While my intentions are always in the right place, I will always worry about finding the time to read as many drafts as I need to, to improve student writing. I will definitely incorportate the response groups in order for the students to get the extra feedback they need.

Dana Huff said

at 12:19 am on Jul 12, 2008

I like the posters, too, but the first thought that occurred to me was that perhaps they could go on a wiki. Students would then have access to them at home or even long after the class is over. It might be the rare student who would go back to them after class, but if even one did, it would be worth it. Plus wikis can be locked down so that only members can see the content, so if a teacher has access to the technology to scan model writing pieces, even they could go up on the wiki. I don't necessarily think it would violate copyright if you're publishing the same way you would for a class and lock down the wiki.

Another use for wikis that I thought of as I read this chapter is the finished pieces that Penny mentions putting on a shared drive on the school's network. Again, access to these pieces on a closed wiki would still make students who didn't want to share outside the class but did want to share with classmates a place to put work that they could look at from home and after the course ends or even after graduation. For that matter, a blog would work, too. In fact, I think a blog is great for publishing student writing.

On an unrelated note, I love the idea of SSR and actually student taught in a school that made it a part of the school day twice a week -- the whole school did it. It was amazing. If, however, I am teaching a literature and comp. class rather than a writing course, how much of the class time should be devoted to SSR? I'm convinced of its value, but with everything else, how much is enough and when should we do it?

Dana Huff said

at 12:43 am on Jul 12, 2008

I forgot to mention I LOVE the idea of the book talks, too. I love sharing what I'm reading so much that I started a book blog (http://www.danahuff.net/), and very much want to be a book club, but two things hold me back: 1) I am, believe it or not based on my web presence, really shy in person and it's actually painful for me to be with people I don't know. I guess I could start a book club with teachers at school, but we live all over the Atlanta metro area, and who wants to meet in a school? 2) I am an English teacher, and sadly, I feel that my being in a book club with folks who weren't teachers would make me feel as if I had to be "on" and teaching, which maybe (probably) they would resent. Any advice?

Anonymous said

at 8:53 am on Jul 12, 2008

Lisa Huff initiated an online book club last summer for our high school faculty/admin (you may view it at http://bhsreaders.pbwiki.com). We submitted our votes for our suggested reading, purchased our books, and read A Thousand Splendid Suns. It was a good start...not nearly enough discussion. But a good start for us.
Maybe this might work also for a "book club"? No travel and no teacher voice required!

Anonymous said

at 9:28 pm on Jul 13, 2008

I have read this chapter and then re-scanned through it again...there is just so much in there! This is a chapter that I will need to keep close by over the next few weeks as I begin to develop/finalize the units I'll be teaching this year. I want to use much of this...I like the idea of Parent Book Talks, creating along with the students...I did attempt to do this last year. In one class, I created a sci-fi world through a multi-genre approach...well, I I completed several of the pieces...will finalize the other parts this fall!
Okay, am I the only one who thinks it would be awesome to have Tom Romano send essays to me?! This says so much of the quality of teacher and writer that Mrs. Kittle is...wow!

Anonymous said

at 11:09 pm on Jul 14, 2008

Parent Book Talk...I asked my first parent to give a book talk this fall! Actually he is also one of our school board members who is participating in Lisa Huff's 21clc team at our school! His new blog is here http://polliwog.edublogs.org/...where he reviews a book that he thinks should be taught! I am impressed!

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