Reading their new book: Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice did not disappoint. It incorporates their same easy to follow style of writing in a format that makes it possible for teachers to pick up and use those lessons the next day as well as learn to improve on their lessons based on the reflections Stacey and Ruth have made following each lesson.
One of my favorite things about the book is that so many of the lessons include strategies for writing that really double as strategies for differentiation. One such strategy is the Plan Box. Before students even left the gathering area from the lesson for work session, they were to draw a plan box which basically consisted of the steps they needed to complete when returning to their desk. This helped students stay on task and helped students internalize mini goals for that day.
In the book, Ruth and Stacey have this quote from my favorite fiction author, Jodi Picoult:
I think we have stories because they help us understand who we are.
Often I have felt like that is an important, yet challenge goal of Writers' Workshop. Kids may be egocentric but they don't really understand who they are. Ruth and Stacey have a great strategy they call collecting bits of life called ephemera. Ephemera is artifacts from your life. Ticket stubs, doodle notes, drawings, candy wrappers...basically anything that represents who you are as a person. After reading about ephemera I have been noticing the little artifacts of my life. So many things that I have been tossing in the trash could be "seeds" for new writing ideas. I love that strategy!
There are so many things in the book that I have underlined and highlighted to try in a lesson, but you can preview the book online yourself here. This is a must read book for writing teachers that will be a great resource for you to return to year after year as you plan for your young writers.
In planning for my interview with Ruth I wanted to find out what the readers of my blog wanted to know about Writers' Workshop. I solicited questions from a few of my colleagues here at Chets Creek Elementary where I work and our friends at International School of Bangkok. Ruth was kind enough to agree to meet with me "virtually" on skype to answer these questions. (We had a little weather delay as a snow storm scrapped our first meeting time! Sorry for the delay in posting!) I enjoyed chatting with her and getting to know her better as well as hearing her thoughts in person. I hope you will enjoy this as well.
A Conversation with Ruth Ayres from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.
Check out the previous stops on the Blog Tour:
A Year of Reading
Raising Readers and Writers
Write Brained Teacher