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What is Workshop?

At Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School it is our goal that students become skilled, independent learners who read and write well, who are able to succeed in both academic and non-academic settings. It is crucial that all students attain skills and strategies to become proficient readers and writers, in order to carry them to advanced levels of success in school and in the work force. 

Our students acquire effective learning strategies and develop high levels of literacy in order to maintain motivation. Reading and writing competencies will effectively nurture a sense of belonging and engagement in learning. Our teachers understand such strategies, model them for students, and encourage their acquisition through authentic literacy activities designed to facilitate student understanding. Classroom environments are structured to model, support, and allow for independent use of strategies and skills, by differentiating learning to optimize instructional time.  Getting to know students by conferring with them individually will permits our teachers to shape their instruction on a daily basis. All this takes place in a standards based classroom filled with reading and writing resources which provide students with sufficient practice and assessments to reach mastery of skills and strategies.

Why use workshop? Ownership is the key.  The student owns the learning; the teacher becomes the facilitator and model in the process. The teacher provides a structure which allows for more class time to be spent acquiring and practicing effective learning strategies. The teacher meets individually with students; students may work independently or with peers.

Workshop celebrates student work. An appreciation for writing and literature is fostered. Students have a true partnership in learning; they choose what they read and write with some direction from the teacher.  Students keep a reader’s notebook and writer’s notebook, a resource and record of their strategies, investigations, and learning. Formal assessment occurs through their notebooks and written products. Reading and writing take place inside and outside the classroom. The structure of the classroom frames a safe zone for the child, elevating student performance in all subject areas. Discussion is encouraged.  Students begin to review, assess, revise, and improve their own work. The playing field is leveled. Students become finders, solvers, and creators.

 Reader’s Workshop

Reader’s Workshop provides the framework for our approach to balanced literacy. In this instructional framework students and teachers are actively engaged in authentic literacy activities, differentiated for their unique goals and objectives.  The workshop begins with a mini-lesson.  In this short period of teacher directed instruction, the teacher acts as the expert reader - modeling, outlining, and practicing reading skills and strategies for the students.  Students then practice the objective with each other and with the teacher, gaining confidence and experience.  After the mini-lesson, students and teachers transition to the work period.  This makes up the largest chunk of time in the Reader’s Workshop.  During this period, students and teachers engage in a variety of literacy activities designed to help students grow as readers.  These activities might include word work, independent reading, partner reading, book talks and more.  Students read texts that they select with support from a teacher.  Additionally, teachers and students engage in guided reading.  These small group sessions target student needs and guide them to develop the skills and strategies necessary to progress as readers.  At the end of the work period the class comes back together to reflect on their work, share new learning, and set goals for future focus.  Through this differentiated approach to literacy, students develop as life-long readers, gaining, not only the skills needed to read complex texts, but also a passion for books and literacy.

Writer’s Workshop

Writer’s Workshop is the framework for writing instruction at Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School.  In Writer’s Workshop students and teachers are actively engaged in writing about topics that interest them.  Students assume the role of authors, giving their work a true seriousness and purpose.  The elements of choice and empowerment make this approach to writing instruction highly effective.  Writer’s Workshop begins with a mini-lesson where the teacher and students discuss a technique or strategy authors use.  Teachers might model a strategy for the students, the class may analyze a mentor text to identify the moves authors use, or they might analyze the text of a classmate to determine strategies for revision.  Following this new learning, students and teachers begin writing independently, moving through the writing process and taking ownership for their own work.  While students write, the teacher confers with students about their work, offering tips, suggestions, compliments and critiques; helping students to grow as individuals.  At the end of the work period the class returns for Author’s Chair.  At this time student authors come to the front of the class and share their writing for their peers.  The class provides feedback for the authors, helping them to continue to grow as young writers.  Writer’s Workshop helps students and teachers to grow and flourish as authors, embracing their own points of view and expressing themselves effectively.  Students explore a variety of genres each year and gain mastery of the writing standards, while also sharing and growing as a community.



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