I find tremendous value and flexibility in the structure of workshop. Instruction across subjects and throughout my day has a tendency to often look a lot like my reading and writing workshop. Starting with whole-class minilessons and ending with shares allows us to learn, practice, share, and reflect together. After our minilessons, we are all able to go off and approximate/practice in a supportive environment. I am able to coach individual students and mentor small groups. This helps me to uncover the strengths and meet the needs of each student in my classroom.
For years (and years), I used a class-wide 5-day approach to word study. Each group got their new list on Monday and had some kind of assessment on Friday. This schedule definitely had its positives, but I found it increasingly difficult to meet with different groups to provide more targeted instruction. In addition, it was incredibly challenging to carve out the time I needed for word study- especially on Mondays and Fridays.
In an effort to use my time more efficiently, I began to set up a rotating schedule for each of my word study groups. I often found that when I was trying to meet with all my students, looking across a single day was overwhelming and unsuccessful. By zooming OUT and looking across the week, I miraculously “found” time to meet with each student- and provide more meaningful instruction.
In more recent years, each word study group followed their own 5-7 day word study schedule. Students studied words in multiple ways and engaged in meaningful word study practices daily. Students had choice built into their word study time each day.
Here’s just a few of the MANY ways students can work independently while we work with small groups:
After a launch into word study, students sustain their daily work with independence while the teacher meets with individuals and small groups. My schedule changed each week. I met with each student (whether individually or in small groups) every week. Over a two-week period, the time I spent with each group and student was balanced and equitable.
Here’s an example of one of MY weeks in word study:
Teachers are experts at thinking creatively and generating solutions for challenges. Finding effective ways to nurture and nudge each student in our classroom is always a priority. I found a schedule that worked for me after trying out many, many, many methods that didn’t quite fit my needs. We have all felt perplexed about how to make it all work in our own classrooms. I believe that professional reading, talking with colleagues, asking our students, and being willing to take the risk of trying out something new (and possibly a few subsequent “something news”) is what leads us to find our own magic formulas. Good luck with your own experimentation! I would love to hear how it’s going.
This blog is the third in a five part series. You can find the first two blogs here and here. Upcoming topics include implementing a student-centered approach to word study and finding meaningful ways to assess in word study.