Welcome to Writing Workshop: A Review and Giveaway

In my first year of teaching, I was one of the few new teachers at my school, in one of the few years that we had a full-time literacy coach. For my literacy coach, Gina, and I, this felt like fate.

Gina and I stayed at each other’s sides during writing workshop. Much like the structure of a minilesson, Gina modeled, we practiced together, then I tried on my own as she coached. We spent hours together on Friday afternoons, pouring over beautiful mentor texts, brainstorming new ideas, and browsing through Gina’s professional texts, which she’d loan to me over the weekends.

I became well-versed in the teaching of writing, thanks to Gina. But what I hold most dearly from our time together, is the contagious joy she infused in writing workshop: joy as we wrote alongside children, joy as we kneeled next to young writers and studied their writing, joy as we rallied in excitement during end-of-unit celebrations. Six years later, Gina and I are still dear friends (now living states apart), who talk routinely about writing.

As I began reading Welcome to Writing Workshop, I was instantly brought back to my formative years with Gina. Within the book, readers are gifted personal literacy coaches, writing partners, and friends — Stacey Shubitz and Lynne R. Dorfman become colleagues to share the joy with.

Bit by bit, Stacey and Lynne walk readers through all the necessities of a successful and cohesive writing workshop. Topics they cover include:

  • Workshop model
  • Classroom environments
  • Writing communities
  • Classroom management
  • Whole-class instruction
  • Independent writing time
  • Conferring
  • Small group instruction
  • Share sessions
  • Strategic instruction in grammar, conventions, and spelling.

A more detailed outline and preview can be seen here, by clicking on “Preview the book!”

New teachers (or better yet, pre-service teachers) will treasure having a single resource to reference as they dip their toes in workshop-style teaching. Stacey and Lynne make complex components of workshop, ones which teachers spend years studying, feel comprehensible and actionable.

Welcome to Writing Workshop is not to be overlooked by more seasoned teachers of writing, though. As Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts say in the foreword, “Stacey and Lynne have managed to achieve the almost impossible: they have written a book that speaks to the highest goals we can have as writing teachers, while holding our hands every step of the way.”

Stacey and Lynne provide educators with the mindset, language, background knowledge, models, tools and resources to lift instruction from any level of expertise. They’ve applied the same principles, which make the workshop approach successful for all students, to the craft of this book.

Writers stay at the center:

The heartbeat of this book is writer — students as writers, teachers as writers — together in a community. From the very first pages, Stacey and Lynne invite us on their journey with a unique lens: reader becomes reader-writer.

Mentors offer inspiration:

An array of photos and videos make Welcome to Writing Workshop a book to experience, not just read.

Provided by Stenhouse Publishers

A consistent structure is followed:

Chapters begin with connections, as minilessons do. It is in these relatable anecdotes that make Stacey and Lynne feel like frequented colleagues down the hall. From there, topics are clearly defined and categorized. Stacey and Lynne then get teachers and students equipped for success. Each chapter closes with a section titled, “When You’re Ready,” which both lifts the level of thinking and offers valuable tips.

A variety of tools are accessible:

Teachers will appreciate the balance of tools for teachers and students.

Provided by Stenhouse Publishers
Provided by Stenhouse Publishers
Provided by Stenhouse Publishers

Welcome to Writing Workshop is not the kind of book to read and shelve. It needs an accessible home, perhaps at a favorite writing spot, or perhaps in the classroom, alongside a conferring toolkit. Keeping Welcome to Writing Workshop nearby means never being in it alone. Stacey and Lynne are there, every step of the way.

“As we read this book, we were reminded of our writing workshops of old. Workshops were places where kids could invent, create, engage, and discuss their writing with great freedom and support. They were places where students’ voices were heard, cherished, and nurtured. They were places that we studied genres together and walked alongside great writing teachers in the pages of mentor texts. Writers wandered through the process, talking with one another, celebrating progress. You know, like real writers do.”

Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts (Welcome to Writing Workshop, Foreword)

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Welcome to Writing Workshop. Thanks to Stenhouse for donating a copy for one reader. (You must have a U.S. mailing address to win a print copy of this book.)
  • For a chance to win this copy of Welcome to Writing Workshop, please leave a comment about this or any blog post in this blog series by Friday, April 12th at 6:00 a.m. EDT. I will use a random number generator to pick the winner’s commenter number. The lucky recipient will be announced at the bottom of this blog post no later than Sunday, April 14th.
  • Please leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Heinemann will ship the book to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – WELCOME TO WRITING WORKSHOP. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. A new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Congratulations to Teresa Horson, the lucky recipient of this giveaway!