The Importance of Reading and Writing Workshop in Middle School
WiloStar3D Academy uses an integrated approach to learning across multiple areas. This includes Language Arts. In reading and writing workshop, students are exposed to a variety of genres as the teacher models fluency and expression. Using this model involves guiding students to choose their own books and writing topics as well as providing significant amounts of time for them to read independently. Allowing students to choose their own books, fosters a love of reading that will last a lifetime. It also involves students in authentic reading experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual student through differentiated instruction. This is super important with today’s learners as students all come to our school with different reading abilities and strengths.
WiloStar uses a central theme for each integrated module with a novel that compliments this theme. Novels are carefully selected to help teach grade level identified benchmarks and goals. Sometimes the novel may or may not be at the current grade level. We think long and hard about reading levels for the novels used at Wilostar and find great benefits in using books that are not “hard reading” to teach skills. Most novels used are at or above grade level but there are instances where they are not.
There is not much good to say about “hard reading.” If you want kids to fail, give them “hard books” they can’t read with less than 95% comprehension. The end result of a steady diet of “can’t do” is unmotivated, hard to manage, oppositional students (Allington).
Differentiated Learning= success for all readers and writers
So what do we do to help advanced and gifted readers excel if they feel the module novel is too easy? We use Reading Workshop. That’s what! Allowing (and requiring) students to self-select novels in addition to the core module novel means they can read at their own pace and move ahead or re‐read as necessary.
In the workshop model, students are invited to become actively involved in their learning, and in the process learn more about how to read various kinds of texts (Atwell).
Writing Workshop is also an excellent way for students to respond to literature, do creative writing exercises and grow in their writing capabilities. Giving students technology tools such as creating a personal blog, or creating a 3D digital story world helps keep them engaged and progressing with their literature and writing skills. To view more information on the WiloStar3D learning progression framework for reading and writing you can download our PDF overview.