Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (And They're All Hard Parts) by Katy Wood Ray and Lester L. Laminack

Release Date: March 1, 2001
Publisher: National Council of Teachers of English
Age Group: Anyone wanting to teach writing!!
Pages: Paperback, 278 pages

In The Writing Workshop, Katie Wood Ray offers a practical, comprehensive, and illuminating guide to support both new and experienced teachers. While every aspect of writing workshop is geared to support children learning to write, this kind of teaching is often challenging because what writers really do is engage in a complex, multi-layered, slippery process to produce texts. The book confronts the challenge
of this teaching head-on, with chapters on all aspects of the writing workshop, including:

* day-to-day instruction (e.g., lesson planning, conferring, assessment and evaluation, share time, focus lessons, and independent writing)
* classroom management (e.g., pacing and scheduling, managing the predictable distractions, and understanding the slightly out-of-hand feeling of the workshop)
* intangibles (e.g., the development of writing identities and the tone of workshop teaching)

The Writing Workshop is a book about being articulate—being able to think through what we are doing as we are doing it so that we can improve our practice. It's a book to go back to when things are getting hard. A book that helps us think through, "Now why was I doing this?" Woven between the chapters on teaching are the voices of published writers, followed by short commentaries from Lester L. Laminack. These voices remind us how writers do what they do, thus lending authenticity to what Katie Wood Ray shows us in the classroom, and thoughtfully helping us frame our instruction to match the complex process of writing.


This book completely changed my views on teaching writing. I have since started another which is just adding to my repertoire of knowledge when it comes to it. Ray and Laminack have done an amazing job building on the idea of having a Writing Workshop in the classroom. They talk a lot about the structure and ways to improve it so that if you have been teaching the Writing Workshop for 10 years or you are in your first year of teaching it, you are able to use the plethora of knowledge to build your workshop. Seeing as I am going to be teaching writing more and more in my classroom, this book will definitely be a continuous reference for me. I highly recommend it to anyone even thinking of incorporating a Writing Workshop into their classrooms.

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