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Using the Workshop Approach in the High School English Classroom

Using the Workshop Approach in the High School English Classroom
Modeling Effective Writing, Reading, and Thinking Strategies for Student Success

  • Cynthia D. Urbanski - University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA, North Mecklenburg High School

October 2005 | 192 pages | Corwin

Everybody wins when you practice the workshop approach in high school English!

Do you find that preparing for standardized tests interferes with teaching advanced thinking, reading, and writing skills in a meaningful way? Do you want to balance test preparation with more creative activities? Success in school and beyond depends on one's ability to read fluently, write coherently, and think critically. This handbook uses the workshop model for exponentially increasing adolescents' abilities in these three key areas.

This practical guide addresses the daily running and practice of a workshop-based classroom, using research and the author's own experiences to illustrate how to establish a workshop that:

  • Fosters lasting learning while reinforcing the skills needed for standardized tests
  • Teaches audience and purpose as a vehicle to style and structure
  • Provides a supportive and lively environment in which students are comfortable enough to take risks and share original ideas

Try Urbanski's approach to teaching literacy analysis and mentoring student writers, and discover just how rewarding the workshop experience can be! 

Foreword by Lillian Brannon
About the Author
1. Running and Writing
The Workshop Culture – A Study of Coaching  
Conclusions and The Mission  
2. Who Writes the Rule Book Anyway? Accountability, Tests, and the History of Rhetoric
A Bit of History  
And What About the Other Parts of My Curriculum?  
Testing and Accountability  
Suggested Reading  
3. Coaching and Teaching By Doing; Modeling Thinking, Writing, and Reading
A Horror Story in Two Scenes  
Scene I: Sunday Night Back in the Dark Ages  
Scene II: Sunday Night One Week Later  
Modeling; A Simple Concept With Huge Benefits  
Modeling Gives Us Fresh Experiences to Draw From  
Modeling Can Transform Our Classrooms  
Modeling Fosters Authentic Learning  
Modeling Will Supercharge Our Planning Time  
Modeling In Our Classrooms: What Do We Do?  
Modeling Concepts for Writing  
A Lesson in Modeling Writing  
Modeling Concepts for Reading  
A Lesson in Modeling Close Reading and Analysis  
Conclusions: Pulling It All Together and Coming Full Circle  
4. Warming Up the Writing Muscles; Two Tools for Invention
Free Writing  
What Is Free Writing . . . Really?  
Why Does Free Writing Work?  
Application: Helping Our Students Discover the Magic  
A Lesson in Free Writing  
The Last Word on Free Writing  
Daybooks. A Place to Store Free Writing and Thinking  
5. The Practice Field; Building Strength and Confidence in Writing and Literary Analysis
Types of Practice  
Reader Response and Invention  
In-Class Revision and Drafting  
Types and Progression of Assignments as Practice  
6. Race Day: Evaluation and the Idea of Grammar
Grammar in Context  
The Bottom Line On Grammar  
A Grammar Lesson  
A Word of Caution  
For Further Ideas  
A Word About Standards  
Watching the Race: Evaluating Student Writing  
Grading Practice Writing Without Eradicating Its Purpose  
Grading Response Journals or Daybooks  
Grading Published Pieces  
Portfolios: Looking at the Whole Season and Student Growth Over Time  
Suggested Reading  
7. Responding as a Spectator: The Writing Conference
Why Conference Anyway?  
A Trek Through a Conference Log  
Writing Conventions/Skills in Context  
A Fifty-Minute Tutoring Session Translated Into a Ninety-Minute Class  
Basic Behavior in a Writing Conference  
A Close-up Look at a Conference  
8. Becoming Independent; Writing and Literature Groups
A Scenario: Student Writing as Class Literature  
Student Response to Groups  
How to Make Groups Work  
Model Functional Groups  
Provide Structure and Incentive  
Help Students Find Their Own Structure  
What About the Kid Who Doesn’t Buy Into Group Work?  
Writing Groups  
Literature Groups  
Suggested Reading  
Epilogue – Why Teachers Coach

"Both new and veteran English teachers will learn new strategies that will enrich their students' lives while greatly improving their writing clarity, voice and precision."

Charles M. Longbottom, International Baccalaureate Program Coordinator
North Mecklenburg High School, Huntersville, NC

"This book offers motivation and inspiration for preservice and novice English teachers and provides reassurance and encouragement for the veteran teachers who feel burdened by the standardization of education. It takes into account the high-stakes accountability of our current environment and documents results from research based practices. The examples and lessons reassure us that effective teaching does not have to give way to 'teaching to the test'."

Nelda R. Cockman, Clinical Assistant Professor
College of Education, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

"Drawing from her experience as a coach, the author demonstrates the importance of modeling in the classroom by reading and writing alongside her students, taking risks, and building a strong community of learners in the process. This book will inspire good English teachers to become great literacy coaches."

Robin Boswell, Middle School Language Arts Instructor
Concord Middle School, MI

"It is possible to balance test preparation with advanced thinking, reading, and writing skills. This book shows you how."

Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, May 2006
Key features

§         Strategies have been tested, refined, and used successfully in the classroom.

§         Written in an accessible tone, tied together with coaching/running as an extended metaphor

§         Sample rubrics

§         Numerous examples of student work

§         Numerous personal examples and vignettes

§         Practical teaching strategies

§         Practical ideas for classroom research/curriculum refinement

§         Research that supports (and strategies for using) free writing in the high school classroom

§         Research and practical advice about conferencing

§         Teaching grammar within the context of reading and writing

Sample Materials & Chapters

Foreward by Lillian Brannon

Chapter 1

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For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412925495