Secondary (Grades 6-8) English Language Arts Workshop

  • Philosophy

    Reading and writing are mutually supportive processes: insight in reading deepens insight into writing and vice versa. When readers develop an understanding of the structure, an organizing principle or a reading strategy, or gain insights into the elements of text, they open a window into understanding how to assemble texts as a writer. The ELA Workshop Framework is simple and predictable so students can work within it independently. It turns them into lifelong, confident readers and writers who display agency and independence.

  • Guidelines

    Daily Instruction

    Whole class instruction: 10-20% of instructional time
    Assessment read-aloud: formative assessment the first day of every reading unit of study, 25 minutes

    • Teacher pre-plans, choosing four stopping points in the text where he/she will cue the students what to listen for or to stop and jot (approximately 25 minutes).
    • Teacher uses prompts matched to unit checklists and  learning progressions connected to benchmarks. 

    Instructional read-aloud (first lesson of a lesson sequence or bend, 25 minutes)

    • Teacher pre-plans, choosing one or two skills from the reading learning progressions to teach – what they want the readers to pay attention to, or the thinking work they will be working on in the lesson sequence (or bend).
    • Teacher asks students to choose a lens and make a plan for their independent reading.

    Mini-lesson (5-15 minutes)

    • Teacher chooses one teaching point matched to the Literature or Informational Reading Learning Progressions or the Narrative, Argument or Informational Writing Learning Progressions.
    • Teacher plans and delivers an explicit mini-lesson to teach a strategy using the architecture of a mini-lesson: Connect, teaching point, teach, active engagement and link.
    • Teacher provides a link to independent practice.
    • Teacher talk is explicit, brief, has an essence of transfer, and promotes agency, not compliance.

    Literacy work time: 60% of instructional time
    Independent Reading/Writing:

    • Establish rituals and routines to engage students in daily reading at their independent reading level from a variety of genres. Longer reading periods build reading stamina.
    • Teachers model a variety of strategies for reader’s purposeful written response to reading, allowing students the choice of format that best supports their thinking and tracking of reading.

    Reading Partnerships, Writing Partnerships, Book Clubs and Research Clubs

    • Students engage with reading and writing partnerships and/or book clubs that last across a unit.
    • Sentence stems or sentence frames are provided as needed to support discourse.
    • Partners provide feedback to each other, and as a result read and write differently because of their conversations.

    Conferring and Small-Group Instruction

    • Teachers confer with students using a research, decide, teach, and record process.
    • Use data from assessment read-alouds, on-demand writing assessments, quick writes, long writes, flash drafts, book logs, and conferring notes to form small groups.
    • Implement a small-group rotation schedule that includes differentiated small-group instructional strategies (strategy groups, guided reading groups, and small-group conferences).
    • Use a variety of teaching tools to support student learning and tailor teaching to student needs: demonstration notebook, micro-progressions, student-created strategy bookmarks etc.

    Share: 10%-20% of instructional time

    • Conduct a share conversation of 2-10 minutes at the end of every workshop.
    • Reading Unit of Study: Partnerships/Clubs meet for talk or flash debates that reflect the teaching point of the mini-lesson and the link to their independent reading.
  • ELA Graphic ELA Classroom Features

    • room arrangements with areas for both whole-group and small-group instruction.
    • an inviting library with texts organized by series, authors, genres, interests, topics and/or bands of text complexity
    • process charts and repertoire charts that support students in transferring the teaching point to independent practice.

  • Assessment

    • Teachers use performance-based formative assessments tied to the learning progressions before a unit begins, at the end of each lesson sequence to progress monitor and provide scaffolds or extensions, and at the end to measure growth found in the Assessment at a Glance for each unit.
    • Monitor progress, provide feedback, plan instruction, and keep records using student work, rubrics, checklists, conferring notes, and anecdotal notes.

  • key image For Secondary Literacy Schoology group access, please contact Sue Braithwaite (