Monday, February 17, 2014


“I believe that classroom environments are most effective when they are literate and purposeful, organized and accessible, and most of all, authentic.” -Debbie Miller (Teaching with Intention)

What are Workshops?

One type of workshop is one that lasts the entire class period, with an intro mini-lesson, workshop time, and debrief at the end. Within PBL, workshops are defined as need-based mini lessons for small groups or the whole group of learners.

Our guest blogger is Kat Julian from Coppell Middle School East.

I have used Reader/Writer Workshop Mini Lessons in my class for about 6 years. I find it the best instructional tool for me to present the standard and task to my learners in the most successful way for them. I keep it short (modeling, reading, practicing, or even just direct teaching), so they have more time for the creating/workshop phase of the UbD plan. I use this mini lesson format in my 8th grade ELA classes. All levels!

The benefits of using mini lessons to teach my skill/standard is that I am holding their attention for the full amount of time a junior high student can truly give me. No more than 15 mins. I really try to stay under 10. After about 10, I have lost more than half of my learners attentionso why not shorten by “part” to the key important information, modeling, or practice, and then let them create the rest of the class period. This way the students are not rushed and have thinking, planning, creating and assessing time in the period. And, I HAVE MORE TIME TO PROVIDE MEANINGFUL FEEDBACK!!!

The benefits for the learners is that I can provide them ongoing feedback during their work time instead of at home when they are not there. I walk the room during that 45 mins instead of standing up talking. By walking the room, or having them come to my thinking table, I am giving them my time, my comments, my feedback to move them to mastery. If the learner has more work time, then I have more time to close the gap. I see more success when I step away from the front of the room after 10 mins then if I stand there all period talking at them.

Check out an example of workshops in Kat’s classroom:

How could you implement workshops in your design experiences for your learners? Is there one thing that really stands out from the example above that you could implement in your classroom? If you’re already using workshops, tell us about your experiences!

Are you wanting to see some examples of scaffolding activities? Visit our website full of examples.

1 comment:

  1. I see the workshop idea being used (and already is) within our building professional development. We give our learners (the staff) and intro or mini-lesson, and then time to use the new app (for instance "Paper" as presented by Mary Kemper), and then debrief on how they could use it within their experiences. Since not everyone could attend every session, we encouraged learners to Tweet about their new ideas so everyone could learn!