Paola Dalmonech CPB 011.3957 – Reflective Practice Seminar II Prof.Frias September 30, 2009

Paola Dalmonech
CPB 011.3957 – Reflective Practice Seminar II
September 30, 2009
Journal #1
Understanding the workshop model
The first thing I would like to share is that the workshop model was something
totally unfamiliar to me. I heard the word Workshop Model for the first time in my
seminar class, and then I learned the function of it by observing the actual practice in the
school where I am doing my internship.
From where I am from, Italy, literacy is taught in the same way I studied it in the
past. In other words, they still use the tradition practice that here, in the United States, is
no longer valid or recognized. The traditional way of teaching sees students learning their
curricular subjects from a teacher who stands in front of a blackboard and copies notes
onto it. I was taught to read by reading tons of books; I learned how to write by reading
essays from texts that the teacher would use in class. Therefore, students were
apprehending how to read and write because it was a task to complete; it was something
that they needed to do in order to pass the scholastic year. However, students of today’s
times deserve and count a different method of learning their reading and writing skills
that is simple yet constructive at the same time. Indeed, this method takes the name of
Workshop Model that can be used both in reading and writing activities.
In the workshop model, teachers aim to increase participation among the students
who ought to be actively involved in in-class conversations. In order to achieve this goal,
teachers will not function as authoritarian figures that just lecture and provide instructions
for the students to follow like if they were machines. Instead, in the workshop model
much interaction ensues after a mini lesson on a specific reading or writing strategy.
For instance, a couple of days ago, my mentor teacher began her minilesson by
presenting a short story that was written by her. She reminded students that the day
before, they had worked on the time-line of a story that was supposed to be a personal
narrative. Moreover, she recalled the previous work into the students’ minds by retelling
one particular characteristic that everyone could remember. This procedure is called
connection. For example, the time-line had to contain words, such as “first,” “then,”
“next,” and “finally” because students had learned that those particular terms structured
their story.
Then, the teacher called the students’ attention by demonstrating what she was
going to do next. So, she showed them how the first paragraph of her story stretched out
and became longer. This system is defined as teach. Right next to her story, there was
another white chart that highlighted what she wanted students to notice. For instance, she
pointed to the words feelings, emotions, details, dialogue… Therefore, students started
their draft only for the first paragraph of their story. In order to make that paragraph
longer, students had to concentrate on their writing. What I found interesting and really
effective was that the teacher gave the students the advice to close their eyes and try to
live one particular moment of their story once again. In this way, they would be able to
feel, smell, and hear everything that occurred in their story. I believe that this type of
strategy, in my internship class, successfully worked because the students seemed
satisfied and largely involved. They ended up by writing lines and lines of words and
using a lot of details. Meanwhile, the teacher was observing students as they were
working. Sometimes, she was called by one of her pupils because they needed to have a
word clarified in terms of searching the definition, for example; this particular section of
the workshop is called active engagement.
Next, the teacher interrupted the students’ writing by making someone restate
what she had taught at the beginning of the lesson. To do so, she asked a couple of
students to recapitulate the presentation of the teacher’s minilesson (link). In addition to
the student’s retelling, the teacher reinforced the most important aspects of the lesson and
assigned for homework to finish up their story maintaining the concepts and ideas learned
and explored in class.
Finally, she picked one of the students’ papers to show to the rest of the class and
see if she had followed up on the teaching point of the minilesson. Both the teacher and
the students discussed her work and shared her thinking. Through this reformed
instructional technique, both teachers and students will have the opportunity to feel off
each other and to understand one another in a relationship that goes beyond note on