Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Workshop Model of Teaching

Have you ever met your hero? Have you been afforded the opportunity to visit with someone who inspires you or who has changed the way you teach? Lucy Calkins is my “teaching hero”! I have learned so much from reading her books, emulating her lessons, and following her model of writer’s workshop. My personal meeting with her was at an International Reading Conference many years ago. Very briefly, I was able to express my gratitude for her extensive work in the area of literacy!

I have used the workshop model for many years and I firmly believe that all teachers regardless of their content/subject can effectively teach using a workshop model. Workshop model in a nutshell looks like this:

  • Mini Lesson (5-7 minutes)
  • Work Time (25-40 minutes)
  • Share (5-7 minutes)

**times are simply a suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule

The mini lesson is where you teach! You share new information, reinforce previously taught material, reteach, etc… The work time is where students work but also where you get to visit with students, confer. This is a time to really see what students can do and listen to them explain their thinking. Some of the best relationship building has come from student conferences! The share time is when students get to visit with others about their work and they get to listen as others contribute to the classroom discussion. (If you are unsure of where to get started with conferring with students, I recommend reading Carl Anderson’s book, “How’s it Going?” 

Being an English teacher, I have the luxury of a multitude of resources that help me teach using this model. However this model can be used by anyone and everyone! Athletic coaches have been using the workshop model for ages! It really does work for all. :)

Questions to ponder:
  1. Do you currently teach using a workshop model or have you witnessed someone using a workshop model? What are your thoughts on this method of teaching? 
  2. Describe how you could incorporate this model into your teaching. If you already are a workshop model teacher - What is the best piece of advice for those teachers that may be hesitant to try?
  3. The suggested length of a mini lesson is 5-7 minutes. Does this amount of time seem adequate? 
  4. When you have seen conferencing with students what approach seems most effective? Are the conferences more student or teacher directed? 
  5. What kinds of information are you hoping to gain in a student conference? What do you do with this information?


  1. You are amazing, Steph! Thank you for sharing your time and talents!!!

  2. 3. I think the amount of time used for a mini lesson is adequate. I am new to teaching but have already noticed that keeping the attention of students can be a challenging one. It seems the longer you spend teaching, reteaching, or reinforcing previously taught materials that the less excited students are when time to work. Thanks for your post! It was a good read:)