Juggle Reader & Writer Workshops in 50 Minutes
FAQ: How do you teach both reading and writing in just 50 minutes?
ANSWER: For the secondary ELA teachers responsible for teaching both reading and writing in a short 50-minute period, “getting it all in” can be a serious juggling act.
Ideally, teachers should instruct on reading and writing every single day. However, this often causes more frustration. Picture it–You start class opening a text and recapping where you left off. Students then read a page or two further, and it’s time to switch to some writing instruction. A short writing lesson later, students generate a couple of sentences before the bell rings. With only about 25 minutes for each, the students barely get started, and they have to stop.
Rather than attempting to hold both workshops each day, consider immersing in one workshop for the entire period.
- First semester, schedule reader’s workshop on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. Hold a writer’s workshop on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
- Flip the schedule for second semester, offering three days targeting trait-based writing (M, T, F) and two days for reading (T, Th).
By holding the same workshop on Friday, the teacher can bridge the weekend, connecting the instruction from the last class meeting on Friday with the next class meeting on Monday. Otherwise, if the three days are consecutive (i.e., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), there is a 5-day gap before returning to it.
Although the main focus each day is on a reader’s or writer’s workshop, kick off instruction each day with a 5-minute bell ringer targeting the opposite workshop. On the days scheduled for reader’s workshop, plan a bell-ringer exercise to practice a recently learned writing skill. And, on the writer’s workshop days, provide a bell-ringer task to practice a recently learned reading skill. This ensures you’re building readers and writers every single day.
Article originally posted September 22, 2015 and updated in March 2019.