reflections · writing workshop

It’s so much bigger…

Today Sam went to day one of a five day Lego Camp. I went a little early to pick him up, just so I could observe a little bit. I was impressed by the instructor. She used specific language when talking to the group.  She said, “Okay engineers, please come to a place to pause your work and bring your model to the team meeting area. Most of us probably aren’t finished, but let’s share what we have accomplished and our thinking.”

The twelve campers, all in grades 1 – 3 brought their creations to the meeting area. When they were together, they took turns sharing their designs. The instructor facilitated the discussion. At the end, she brought their attention to a chart they started earlier in the day. It said:



Problem Solve

Then she said, “Let’s add to our list. Engineers also communicate.” She added it to the chart.

I was struck by the similarities to writing workshop. I shouldn’t have been. After all, good teaching is good teaching. The instructor was specific in her language, talking as one engineer to a group of other engineers. She got behind their designs, encouraging them to continue and pointing out things they were doing, as if they were intentional about it all. “That’s a good use of a pulley,” she said. “Engineers often think about conserving energy,” she responded. “It’s important to listen to one another. That’s how we grow ideas,” she said.

The things they were talking about were specific to the work of engineers. However, it was also the kinds of things we learn in writing workshop — collaboration, problem solving, and communication. It was a moment when I was reminded our work is so much bigger than teaching kids how to write. Writing workshop teaches skills that are necessary to success in the work force.

8 thoughts on “It’s so much bigger…

  1. Incredible similarities! Your story is a great example of generative teaching. The instructor wasn’t just developing student understandings that were applicable to the work in front of them but, work across content areas and across the course of their lives. Great post, Ruth.


  2. It is what content integration is all about! Yeah! For the science teacher – she is using inquiry, being constructivist, and language specific. Now the next step is to record the work in their science notebooks by drawing and writing. The science and writing slide together perfectly.
    The extension later is to write a fiction story about how and who can use this model.

    Sorry you can see I get excited about this teaching. It is what I love. I will be teaching both writing and science this year but if you are a teacher who is not teaching science check in with the science teacher and see where you can share and overlapped language and writing / working processes. It really boosts the learning for your students when they see and work throught the same inquiry process using similar key words.
    Happy writing and science!


  3. Wonderful connection. I spent 2 hours yesterday revising curriculum to reflect the CCSS and had difficulty connecting Reading and Writing Workshop STRUCTURES to the CCSS. I guess it’s not the structure so much as a the content. Thanks for this post!


  4. I also really enjoyed this post. I have had a similar fascination with hearing more about math workshop in resources such as Kassia Wedekind’s Math Exchanges. It is interesting to see the workshop philosophy that I love for reading and writing extend to other disciplines. Thanks for sharing your example to help further expand my understanding.


  5. love this!! How empowering for our students to see themselves as authors, scientists, mathematicians and so on by the language we use.


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