My children arrive home from school at 4 p.m. Lights-out occurs by 8:30 p.m. Therefore, we only have four and a half hours to make sure they’ve had a snack, pack their lunch for the next day, read, watch a half-hour of TV, eat dinner, shower, brush their teeth, and wind down before bedtime. Every. Night. Feels. Rushed. Now add in soccer practice, music lessons, and Hebrew school and — WHOA! — 270 minutes vanish quickly!
It’s kind of the same thing for the independent writing block. The time passes quickly — whether you have 25 or 40 minutes for students to write independently. After the minilesson ends, it’s a race to ensure everyone knows what to do and that students are settled so you can confer and meet with small groups. It often feels as though there’s never enough time to meet with all of the students you want to see individually. Like any seasoned workshop teacher, you know you can do table conferences and lead small-group work. But still, time is short.
During the block of time when you’re conferring and leading small groups, you might want to share something with the entire class. You can lead a mid-workshop interruption part of the way through the independent writing block. There are three types of things you can do with a mid-workshop interruption.
You might be concerned that a mid-workshop interruption will break students’ concentration from their own writing work. Here are some tips to help you and your students manage this time:
- The Call to Attention
- Stand in the same spot every time you say “Writers, may I have your eyes?” This will help students know where to find you when they hear your voice.
- Wait for all students to put down their writing utensils and give you their eyes before you begin talking.
- Full attention may look different for students who are uncomfortable with sustained eye contact. Work with that child privately to find a way they can nonverbally communicate to you that they’re listening.
- Teach One Thing
- From your mid-worskhop interruption spot in the classroom, share ONE strategy, noticing, or reminder that nearly all of your students can benefit from right then and there.
- Whatever you say should take no more than two minutes.
- Close by Linking
- You might say, “Think about whether you’re going to try this out now, later today, or tomorrow… now go back to writing,” “I’d like you to try this out right now,” or “Keep going!”
- Head over to the next student you wish to confer with or pull a new small group.
We maximize our teaching time when we look for opportunities to instruct our students at different times during a writing block. The mid-workshop interruption is a consistent way to gather your class together to raise the level of their work day after day.