Flip Your Writing Workshop by Dana Johansen, Sonja Cherry-Paul. A
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Flip Your Writing Workshop

A Blended Learning Approach

How many times during writing workshop have you thought, “If only I could clone myself!”  Dana and Sonja have a solution for finding more one-on-one teaching time during your writing workshop:  flipped learning.  Imagine students having access to instruction and support when they need it as often as they need it. While definitely not a replacement for you, the teacher, flipped learning allows students to:

• access a variety of minilessons on their own
• work at their own pace to study the minilesson
• move ahead or review concepts, depending on individual needs.

Meanwhile, you’ll have more...

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Full Description

How many times during writing workshop have you thought, “If only I could clone myself!”  Dana and Sonja have a solution for finding more one-on-one teaching time during your writing workshop:  flipped learning.  Imagine students having access to instruction and support when they need it as often as they need it. While definitely not a replacement for you, the teacher, flipped learning allows students to:

• access a variety of minilessons on their own
• work at their own pace to study the minilesson
• move ahead or review concepts, depending on individual needs.

Meanwhile, you’ll have more time to maximize individual instruction and conferring.  Dana and Sonja walk you through the “how’s” and “why’s” of flipped learning, and provide guidance for determining which minilessons should be “flipped.” They’ll illustrate what flipped learning in a writing workshop looks like by modeling a flipped lesson, and explaining the technology used.  Whether you’re a novice or advanced technology user, you’ll find tech tips throughout the book that help you choose the right tools and resources for creating flipped lessons and incorporating them into your workshop. 
Discover how a blended approach using flipped learning can increase efficiency in your writing workshop, while fostering independent learning and student engagement at the same time.

In Depth

Writing workshop is a natural venue in which to increase differentiation, engagement, and efficiency and promote choice and independent learning. Flipped learning dovetails with the structures already in place, which include the minilesson, small-group work, and one-on-one learning.

Drawing on the work of Lucy Calkins (1994), Nancie Atwell (1987), Fountas and Pinnell (2001), and Donald Graves (2003), we have designed our workshops in ways that prioritize active student learning and, most important, time in which to write. Fountas and Pinnell write, “The purpose of the writing workshop is to give students opportunities to write within the school day and to provide appropriate, intensive, targeted instruction to the whole group, small groups, and individuals” (50). We wanted to devote more time to student writing and individual instruction. Using flipped learning in writing workshop helped us achieve these goals.

Before we began flipping our lessons, a typical writing workshop included a minilesson, time for students to write and/or meet one-on-one with us, and last, a time to share and set goals about what they would like to work on in the future. Using flipped learning in place of some minilessons freed up time for more student writing and conferring. Lucy Calkins (1994) first envisioned the writing workshop minilesson as a brief time (five to ten minutes) in which teachers “offer something to the group that is meant to inspire and instruct” (189). Since we believe strongly in the value of minilessons in writing workshop, the idea of flipping them was initially terrifying. What would happen if we encouraged our students to learn some minilessons on their own? Would these flipped lessons be just as effective? Would students’ learning suffer? How would these changes affect our writing workshop? What we found astonished us (and we think it will astonish you too). When we flipped some of our lessons, we covered more content. We had more time for individualized instruction and conferences. Our students set goals about what they needed to learn, sought out the information on their own, and had more time for writing. We rejoiced at the changes we were seeing: our students were taking more ownership of their learning and making choices about what they needed to learn.

What does flipped learning in a writing workshop look like? Imagine being able to teach a new minilesson and review three previous ones in one workshop session. All—yes, all—your students are able to set goals, have their needs addressed, and write. Additionally, you’re able to confer with several students and quickly assess their progress. Here are two examples:
  • You’re teaching a narrative writing unit in third grade and you notice that your students have different skills they need to work on. Several need to learn how to create paragraphs, several others are exploring strategies for elaboration, and two are ready for the challenge of writing a flashback. You send these students to their computers or tablets to find the lessons they need while you confer with others.
  • Or perhaps you’re teaching a fifth-grade essay unit. Some of your students are ready to move on to writing counterclaims in their arguments. Some need to review how to write a thesis statement. Two need help using transitional phrases to distinguish their arguments from their counterclaims. You direct your students to flipped lessons on their tablets or computers that address their needs. Your students become more independent in their learning, and you are free to meet with more of them individually.
A writing workshop, in all its wonderfully chaotic glory, functions more smoothly and efficiently with flipped learning. We invite you to embrace flipped learning as a liberating teaching approach in elementary and middle school writing workshops that lets students work productively, at their own pace, with you there to model and guide. These lessons can then be accessed whenever students need them, including at home, which is incredibly helpful for parents who wonder, “What is my child learning? What is he being asked to do?”

Samples

Reviews

As a middle school writing workshop teacher who has just begun experimenting with the flipped classroom model, this book is a godsend!  Dana and Sonja prove that flipped lessons support the writing workshop tenets, and show us how these lessons fit into the routines of our buzzing, magical workshops. They provide you with all of the resources you need to apply this new teaching method, and forever change the way you teach writing.

--Devan Fitzpatrick, Lower School Teacher, Fay School, Southborough, MA

With Flip Your Writing Workshop you will learn how a few carefully crafted flipped mini-lessons can meet your students’ needs when they need them! Dana and Sonja share a range of tools, from easy-to- use to more complex, as well as a framework that will guide you every step of the way.  An added bonus is the invitation to step into Dana and Sonja’s writing workshops to see how they created, implemented, evaluated and improved their own flipped writing mini-lessons as well as the student responses that are included for each lesson.

--Fran McVeigh, Literacy Consultant and Adjunct Instructor

Flip Your Writing Workshop is a step-by-step, practical guide to creating a flipped English classroom.  Johansen and Cherry-Paul provide tools for teachers new to flipped learning, as well as teachers who are not "tech comfortable."  Technology is often the biggest barrier for teachers starting to flip, and this book helps demystify the process.  Writing Workshop is a powerful pedagogical tool, and the authors incorporate technology in a clear and imaginative way to make it manageable for any teacher.  This book is a great resource for teachers looking to flip their class!

--Cheryl Morris, Teacher and Flipped Learning Leader

As a teacher who has also struggled to make time for every single writer in my classroom, I was drawn in to Flip Your Writing Workshop by the fact that Dana and Sonja start out with hope and a can-do attitude. They acknowledge both the promise and potential pitfalls of implementing flipped learning, and they offer guidance every step of the way.  Flipped learning is about reimagining the most valuable resource we teachers have at our disposal: time. 
—Meenoo Rami, author of Thrive

In this book, Dana and Sonja offer an insider’s look into their flipped writing workshops. By sharing stories from their classrooms, examples from students, videos of flipped writing lessons, step-by-step instructions, and technology tips, they expertly demonstrate how a blended learning approach can easily be put into place in today’s busy classroom.  If you’re searching for a way to maximize your teaching time, differentiate your instruction, and assist more students with writing each day, all while promoting student agency, then look no further than Flip Your Writing Workshop: A Blended Learning Approach.

--Lisa Eickholdt, author of Learning from Classmates

Flip Your Writing Workshop is a clear, unintimidating, practical guide for real teachers to understand the “hows” and “whys” of incorporating flipped learning into each stage of writers’ workshop as it applies to a real classroom. Johansen and Cherry-Paul take the true challenges of the classroom and offer a practical, step-by-step solution that accounts for varied teaching environments and situations. This is an instructional guide on how to use flipped learning to meet the needs of all students, foster student choice, set goals and empower independence in class and at home. As a middle school literacy specialist, it will be a resource I recommend to teachers again and again.

--Abbe Hocherman, Pollard Middle School Literacy Specialist

If the idea of flipping lessons in your writing workshop is appealing to you, but you are not sure where to begin, the answer is in this book.  I have seen firsthand how Dana and Sonja’s approach to writing workshop transforms students’ writing.   As a technology facilitator, I appreciate resources that present innovative approaches to learning and make teachers comfortable.  Dana and Sonja have done just that.  I am thrilled to have this resource at my disposal when consulting with writing teachers interested in incorporating technology in a meaningful, impactful way. 

--Christopher Keogh, Technology Facilitator, Hastings-on-Hudson Union-Free School District