EducationWorld is committed to bringing educators the practical tools they need to make good decisions, engage in effective leadership and implement strategies that work. To further this commitment, we have formed a content partnership with Stenhouse Publishers. EducationWorld is pleased to feature a variety of book excerpts as part of this collaboration. Check back frequently as we feature additional excerpts from Stenhouse titles.
The following excerpt comes from So What Do They Really Know? Assessment That Informs Teaching and Learning, by Cris Tovani (Stenhouse Publishers, 2011). The book retails for around $23 and is available on the Stenhouse Web site.
The following excerpt describes the workshop model that the author relies on to foster a cycle of student work, timely feedback, and assessment. When students can show what they understand, you can adjust your teaching to what they need the most. Be sure to read two other excerpts from this book: Grading That Reflects Your Values and Annotating as an Assessment Tool.
Just like the athletes on the field who do the majority of the work during practice, students in my classroom do the majority of the work by reading, writing, and thinking during class. By organizing my time using the workshop model every day, all year long, I can ensure that their reading, writing, and thinking are getting better.
In its simplest form, the workshop model has four basic parts: opening, mini-lesson, work time, and debriefing.
The opening is an opportunity to share the day’s learning targets and set the stage for the day.
During the mini-lesson the teacher provides direct instruction for the whole class.
During the work time, students get to dig in and practice the learning. This is the most important part of the workshop and therefore must be the longest part of the period. I try to give students the bulk of the class to work, practice, or apply what has been taught during the mini-lesson.
Whether learners are struggling, gifted, or in between, they all deserve a year’s worth of growth. When they get two-thirds of each class period to work, the minutes of practice time add up. When there is intentional planning with student work minutes in mind, combined with a teacher by their side conferring and giving targeted feedback, students can’t help but expand their knowledge and increase their skills. This means they can tackle any kind of text with confidence and have the wherewithal to know what they need to do to construct meaning. If we do our jobs well, by listening to teach instead of talking to teach, students should be just as exhausted as teachers at the end of the day—and just as brilliant.
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