Review (Test 1)

We will not have a test.  But if we were, I'd hold a review session.

The first few weeks of this course focus on elements of the writing workshop.  Following are major questions and points.  If there's anything you have missed first time around, go back and take another look.  Remember, this is the basis for your professional life--not a set of teacher opinions you only want to memorize for a test and then forget--so it is up to you to build your understanding.

The Writing Workshop by Katie Wood Ray--

Chapter 1, Understanding the Essential Characteristics of the Writing Workshop
What is the difference between "doing" the writing process (or teaching the writing process) and having a writing workshop?
Why is the focus on writers rather than on the process so important?
What are the "essential characteristics of the writing workshop"? (choices about content; time for writing; teaching; talking; periods of focused study; publication rituals; high expectations and safety; structured management)

Chapter 2, The Necessity of a Writing Workshop in a Day Already Full of Writing
What are the two kinds of writing? (writing to live, composition)  What are the differences between them?
Why are rituals and routines important?
Be sure to review the list of reasons for writing workshop on page 25.  (You may need to use these arguments to justify incorporating a workshop approach in your classroom.)

Chapter 3, Teaching and the Development of Writing Identities
[Early assignments in this course--introductions--are meant to help you think about your own writing identity.  Expressing it in different ways helps you think about the various ways in which your students may think about their own identities.]
What is the difference between doing something a lot and defining yourself as a doer of that activity (e.g, the difference between "reading" and "being a reader," between "writing" and "being a writer")?
Be sure to review the list of goals for students' development of identities as writers on pages 33-39, because these goals shape the content and activities you will introduce into your writing workshop.

Chapter 4, The Tone of Workshop Teaching
How is writing workshop different from traditional classroom approaches to teaching writing?  (Do you remember what Margaret learned from her students' applause after she shared her piece of not-so-good writing with her class?)
What are some of the ways you can assess the tone of a writing classroom?  (Review pages 48-49.)
Why is it important for the teacher to write?

Chapter 5, Time in the Workshop as a Predictable Event
What is important about blocking out an amount of time for the workshop and sticking with that time every day?
What are the essential elements in workshop for which the teacher must make time? (focus lessons, independent writing time, sharing)

Chapter 6, Getting Started with Independent Writing Time
What do students need to understand about independent writing in order to make good use of it? (what the "work" of the workshop is, what activities they may engage in to accomplish the work)
Be sure to review the list of questions on page 61 intended to help students imagine what to do in the writing workshop.
Be sure to review the list of activities students may engage in, discussed on pages 64-67.  Think about ways you might present these kinds of activity in your classroom and ways to keep reminders around the classroom.
A question for reflection:  Do you accept the argument that writers need time just to think?  [Has your research on a specific established author changed your thinking about this at all?]

Chapter 7, Managing Predictable Distractions in the Writing Workshop
What factors help us manage a classroom in which independent work and activity is going on? (strong teaching presence, use of space, ways of moving from activity to activity, the tools for the work, student responsibility for their workspace)  Think about your vision for the writing workshop in your classroom.

Chapter 8, Understanding That Slightly Out-of-Hand Feeling in the Workshop
How can a teacher cope with the feeling that what's going on in workshop is a bit out of her control?  (And what's good about its being a bit out of teacher control?)  [Has your research on a specific author helped you think about "the chaos of writing" in new ways?]
What are the elements that the writers control for themselves? (choices about daily work, choices about content, decisions about how to develop each text, choices about genre, choices about form, decisions about publication)

Chapter 9, Getting Ready to Teach
What kind of thinking do you need to do to prepare for your workshop? (how to set up the room [environment], how to spend time in the room [demonstration], what to teach in focus lessons and conferences [direct instruction], what investigations to plan [inquiry], and what is required as homework [the potential of the world])
Note:  This is where you get a lot of specific ideas for your classroom: routines, bulletin boards, resources for students [see handout on creative approaches to grammar], topics for inquiry.  [This is why you have been assigned an author inquiry.]
Question for reflection:  What is your own definition of "homework"?  What makes it worthwhile, in your opinion and experience?

Chapter 10, The Nature of Workshop Curriculum
Remember the goals for students in the workshop from Chapter 3.  A recap of those goals is the basis for five kinds of things to teach in workshop: strategies (ways to do things), techniques (ways to fashion things), questions (ways to think about things), relationships (ways to connect things), conventions (ways to expect things).
Be sure to review this chapter carefully, because Katie Wood Ray shows us actual things a teacher might say in leading into direct instruction.
How do we learn from other writers?  (This is why you also read parts of Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray--to show you how to learn from other writers.).
How can teachers learn more about writing and teaching writing (besides taking this class, of course!)? (write and pay attention to their own writing processes, watch and listen to students, take more courses in writing and teaching writing, pursue professional development opportunities in writing, join or form study groups [you can lay the foundation now for continued dialogue about teaching writing once you've all started teaching and keep up with each other in Facebook], talk to colleagues who teach writing, join professional organizations and attend professional conferences, read professional works on teaching writing [like this one], develop knowledge of good literature, read editing guides and develop a reference library)

Chapter 11, Teaching a Whole Class of Very Individual Writers
What is the difference between teaching a technique and assigning a topic?  Why does it work to separate these two approaches? [Test Katie Wood Ray's reasoning by trying your hand at the assignment to "Describe your kitchen using your five senses."}
Why is it important to have a purpose for writing?

Chapter 12, Whole-Class Units of Study in the Writing Workshop
What topics that can be addressed by the whole class will help students reach the goal of being independent writers?  Review the lists on pages 151-152. [Note:  One textbook I considered ordering for this class is Notebook Know-How:  Strategies for the Writer's Notebook by Aimee Buckner.]
What are the important considerations to review in selecting units of study? (your strengths as a teacher, the writing instruction students have previously had, students' interests, colleagues' units of study, available resources, the kinds of writing students must be assessed in)
How might you distribute the units of study over a year?  See examples on pages 137-138.

Wondrous Words by Katie Wood Ray--

This book emphasizes the importance of "reading like writers," studying the craft of writing and envisioning possibilities for our own texts by examining published authors' texts.  Katie Wood Ray also stresses the importance of the sounds of "wondrous words"--beautiful language read aloud--in shaping students' writing.

Chapter 2, The Craft of Writing
[The research assignment on an author is an opportunity for you to study writers' "office work."  The annotated bibliography assignment requires you to pay attention to writers' "ways with words."]
What are some of the writing techniques we see frequently in published works? (making a long story short; using print to match meaning; intentional vagueness; on-your-mark, get-set, go colon; repeating sentence structures; close echoes; effective use of "And"; runaway sentence; commenting on the text; question series; repetitions and complete sentence fragments)
How can you make use of this knowledge of craft in your own classroom workshop? (help students practice good writing techniques in any kind of writing; know some writers well so that you can refer students to them [Katie Wood Ray loves Cynthia Rylant, Patricia MacLachlan, Jane Yolen, Gary Paulsen, Jerry Spinelli, Sandra Cisneros, and Eloise Greenfield]; name techniques in personally meaningful ways; understand writers' decision-making processes; use grammatical terminology to describe techniques)
What are structural crafts? (genres and methods of organizing whole texts)

Chapter 3, Envisioning Text Possibilities
How does "envisioning" fit into the writing process? (shaping seed ideas, choosing text structures)
How is writing "recursive"? (overlapping parts of the writing process)
What are some text structures that teachers can introduce? (diary entries, series of poems, use of repeating lines or phrases, seesawing between bits of information, shift in perspective, one story inside another story, repeating structure like seasonal organization, matching beginning and ending lines, thread-backs, opening image, use of questions, alphabet book)
Why encourage writers to develop their ability to envision possibilities? (sense of purpose and planning options, working with a topic over time in different genres, ways to revise)

Chapter 4, Reading Aloud:  Filling the Room with the Sound of Wondrous Words
[Choral reading assignment is a variation meant to illustrate the bridge between reading and writing.]
What do students gain from the read-aloud experience in the classroom? (aids learning to read, sharing reading experiences, improving writing, listening like a writer, recognizing the sound of good writing, echoing good writing)
What are potential problems if students' writing doesn't improve when they are read to? (too little time given to reading aloud, student understanding of listening like writers, effectiveness of read-aloud performance, quality of the craft, teacher investment in the reading aloud)
How can teachers invite students to "fill the room with wondrous words"?  Review the ideas for implementing choral reading on pages 81-86.
[Note:  I like to use Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischmann in the classroom.]

 

Optional reading--

Chapters 4-5 from Reaching Struggling Writers by Colleen Cruz

"Literacy Instruction for Young Children of Diverse Backgrounds" by Kathryn H. Au

Review questions posted by Dr. Trupe 3/5/09