Ep. 4: How to Conduct a Reading and Writing Workshop in the Traditional Classroom

Collaborative Teaching Episode 4- How to Conduct a Reading and Writing Workshop in the Traditional Classroom.jpg

Kelly Gallagher says students need to go through a lot of bad writing before they can get to any good writing. A reading and writing workshop approach is essential to giving students the volume and practice they need to develop as writers. This episode will outline the basics of running a reading and writing workshop in your classroom. 

We forget we are only one of their teachers in their thirteen years...we are only one. And it’s okay to not be perfect.

**Disclaimer: all of my ideas have come from my favorite teacher-authors**


Read these books for more insight into running a reading and writing workshop

  1. Nancy Atwell - In The Middle
    Everything you need to know about a reading and writing workshop in a middle school setting. The ideas are amazing, but not all will fit in the traditional public school - Atwell is lucky enough to run her own school.

  2. Kelly Gallagher - Write Like This
    Some of the best ideas on writing. Gallagher provides lesson ideas for all the different writing genres.

  3. Penny Kittle - Book Love
    Need to figure out how to run an independent reading program. Kittle has amazing ideas to get you started.

  4. Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle - 180 Days
    The best of both worlds. Gallagher and Kittle show you how to put it all together in 180 days of teaching. And still you will have more ideas than you could possibly use in one school year.

  5. Jennifer Serravallo - The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers
    Amazing resource for mini-lessons. Unfortunately, her grade suggestion ends at 8th grade, but I think many could be brought into the high school level.

How Do we Start?

Most important piece of a reading and writing workshop: VOLUME, VOLUME, VOLUME. 

"Young writers can't get to quality without volume." - Tom Newkirk

Volume builds:

  • skills

  • stamina

  • confidence

Writing workshop (6:25)

Of the writing in the classroom, 75% should be student-choice writing. 

Everyday provide a seed to inspire students writing. This can be videos, poems, excerpts, infographics, or photographs. Provide a seed, have


Daily Schedule (7:40)

  1. Independent reading (student choice books) for 10 minutes or more

  2. Journal writing (seed, write for 8 minutes, revise for 2 minutes)

  3. Mini lesson focusing on a skill (7-15 minutes)

  4. Create - focused on their writing (the rest of class)

During the create time, you as the teacher are conferencing or working with writing groups on individual skills.


Moral of the story (12:08) 

  • Relinquish a bit of control

  • More choice for students

  • Allow reading time each day

  • Provide inspiring text, excerpts, videos for thier writing

  • Focus on a skill in a small mini lesson

  • Then release them to work and practice

  • And share successes

Jennifer Guzman