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Thursday, July 30, 2015

10 Tips to Brush-Up Your Workshops!

As we get ready to start a new school year, I thought I'd give a few workshop brush-up tips to get your workshops off the ground with success!

I've been doing a series on supporting your workshop through the balanced literacy components. If you haven't checked it out, you can find them below!

Post 1- Overveiw 

Post 2- Shared Reading & Interactive Read Alouds with Accountable Talk 

Post 3- Shared and Interactive Writing 

Now...onto to the Top Ten Tips! 

1. Know what workshop is and why you are doing it. 
Simply stated, workshop is a block of time that involves a mini-lesson, work time and a share time. The mini-lesson is usually no longer than 10-15 minutes, depending on the grade level. Work time is about thirty to forty-five minutes long and the share time is generally around five to seven minutes long. Challenge your students to work the whole time by setting goals and modeling the behaviors you want to see while they work for extended periods of time.

2. Keep your workshop routines simple and predictable. 
Student should know the cadence of your daily workshop and feel very comfortable with their learning time. When students feel safe and know what to expect, their brains are freed up to do more thinking!

3. Pull your kiddos close! 
Students are generally sitting on the floor right at your feet during your brief mini-lesson. They go off to work at their desk or a work spot around the room, and then they are called back to the front for share time.

4. Let the kids use the STUFF. 
Materials that students use during workshop should be labeled and accessible so that students can get what they need without bothering you. Don't keep the "good"  markers and the "good" paper in the closet all year. What is it there for?

5. Protect your 10 minute mini-lesson! 
Student-talk during your mini-lesson should be minimal if they even talk at all (with the exception of the active engagement portion). That is YOUR chance to deliver a tip for today’s learning that they should be practicing and not a chance for students to help with the learning. Your mini-lesson should be explicit and intentional.

6. Keep your read alouds OUTSIDE of the workshop. 
Read alouds are generally done OUTSIDE of the workshop. You don’t want to spend ten of your fifteen minutes on a story that could have been read that morning. Be intentional about the books you read aloud and use those as mentor texts that you refer to during a mini-lesson. Also, consider varying the book genres you use for read alouds! Hearing YOU read nonfiction texts might be the only time your students ever hear nonfiction being read out loud. Make them good ones!

7. Know the architecture of a mini-lesson. 
The mini-lesson has an actual architecture that is very important. Briefly, that includes a connection, stating the teaching point explicitly, giving a demonstration right there on the floor, having the students try the skill on the floor (active engagement) and a link to daily learning. More on the mini-lesson structure here.

8. Don't you dare skip the SHARE! 
The share time portion of the workshop can be used to do a variety of things! You can reinforce the teaching point or showcase really smart work that you saw during the work time. To keep this time short, during small group or conferring, select the student that you want to showcase and be ready to show the class what they did. Talk for the student and allow them to shine without going over the five to seven minutes!

9. Send your learners off and's GAME TIME!

10. Use other parts of your day to support your workshops.

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