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Making Workshop Work. Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop for Multi-lingual Learners. Introductions. Asa Mercer Middle School, Seattle Public School District Priscilla Allen: 6 th , 7 th , and 8 th grade ELL Math and Social Studies

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Making workshop work

Making Workshop Work

Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop for Multi-lingual Learners


Asa Mercer Middle School,

Seattle Public School District

  • Priscilla Allen: 6th, 7th, and 8th grade ELL Math and Social Studies

  • Adrienne Wicklund: 6th grade ELL Reading and Writing; General Education History

  • Linea Lebehn: 7th grade ELL Reading and Writing; General Education History

Turn and talk
Turn and Talk

1. Introduce yourself.

2. What is your experience with Readers and Writers Workshop and ELLs?


  • TC Framework

  • Overview of Strengths and Challenges

  • Issues and Possible Solutions from our experiences

Tc framework
TC Framework

  • Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Goal = Life-long readers and writers

Workshop structure
Workshop Structure

  • Mini-Lesson

  • Model/Guided

  • Independent Practice

  • Small Group

  • Conferences

  • Mid-workshop Interruption

  • Share out

Things we like
Things we like:

  • Independent reading choices

  • Dedicated reading time

  • Small group reading

  • 1:1 structured conferencing

  • TC Quick Assessments

Things we don t like
Things we don’t like

  • Lack of vocabulary and grammar instruction

  • Little informational text, no content instruction, no themes

  • Need to track of multiple texts

  • Vague, overwhelming learning objectives

  • Insufficient targeted skills practice and demotivating “post-it-ing”

  • Monitoring progress/proficiency: challenging

Issue 1 vocabulary
Issue 1: Vocabulary


  • No explicit vocab instruction


    Tier 2 words from mentor text

    Do Nows

Issue 2 grammar
Issue 2: Grammar


  • No grammar instruction

    Grammar Solutions:

  • Sentence Correction “Do Now”

  • Small group targeted grammar

Issue 3 adding theme to units
Issue 3: Adding THEME to units


TC Units often lack the sort of unified theme and supports that that ELL students need in order to access the material

Historical fiction unit

  • Original TC Unit: The Colonial Era

  • Mentor text, read aloud

  • Several, leveled book clubs

    • Teaching points

    • Book club discussion points

Adapted ELL Unit: The Colonial Era

Background Knowledge:

Overview of key events leading to the colonial era

  • Historical documentary with comprehension supplements “America the Story of Us”

  • Period film, “April Morning”

  • Non-fiction texts

  • Charts

  • Maps

    Book Clubs:

  • Shared Text

  • Vocabulary supports

  • Graphic Organizers/Tracking sheets

Issue 4 vague wordy learning objectives
Issue 4: Vague/Wordy Learning Objectives

Issue: Difficulty in defining learning objectives, skills, and strategies.

Please come to the front with your notebook and a pencil.

Example of tc learning objective
Example of TC Learning Objective

  • Character Unit:

    “To read people-in life and in stories-it is important to remember that actions can be windows to the person. In life and as we read, we can pause after a character has done something and say, Let me use what just happened as a window to help me understand this person.” -Lucy Calkins

Example of adapted learning objective
Example of AdaptedLearning Objective

  • Character Unit:

    Readers identify character traits based on what characters do, say, and think.

Group work
Group Work

TC Learning Objective:

“Expert readers believe that when thinking about stories, it can especially pay off to pay attention to characters in general and to their motivations and struggles in particular.” –Lucy Calkins

1) Break it into learning targets

2) Brainstorm ideas for skill and strategies

Issue 5 learning objective not found in independent book
Issue 5: Learning Objective not found in independent book

Issue: Teaching point can’t always be applied to independent reading level book of ELL students

  • ie. Magic Tree House


  • Common Text

  • Leveled small groups

  • Issue 6 lack of non fiction
    Issue 6: Lack of Non-fiction

    Non-fiction is often treated an individual unit of study

    Incorporate non-fiction throughout the year

    • “Non-fiction Fridays”

    • Topical magazines

    • Non-fiction texts available in classroom library for students all year

    • Showing of topical videos, maps, photos and other visuals to supplement lessons

  • *Outstanding Resource:

    • Newsela (topical current affairs; lexile-leveled)

  • Issue 7 post its
    Issue 7: Post-its


    Can be difficult to assess if students achieved the learning/skill target.


    Structured Exit tickets

    Structured post it
    Structured Post-it

    Noticing Characters: Empathy

    (Character name) feels ___________________


    I know this because in the text it says ______

    ________________________________. (pg. #)


    • How can you make workshop work?