Tuesday, June 7, 2011

LIterature That Supports the Workshop Structure

I'm always searching for books to use to reintroduce my students to the workshop structure... books we can compare to our work as learners.  Next year as I revisit the rituals, routines, and roles of the workshop structure (reader's, writer's, mathematician's, etc.), I've found two new choices.  It's important for us to talk about the specifics of the structure of the workshop (crafting, composing, reflecting) and to define our roles within that structure as learners (I wrote about this in Conferring: The Keystone of Reader's Workshop).  Although the structure of the workshop is a familiar one, I think students need opportunities to explore the structure in new learning environments, contexts, and with varied expectations from teacher to teacher.  I've run across two nice choices:
     The first book is Workshop by Andrew Clements (recommended by my friend, Lori).  It's a simple book that describes the "tools" necessary to have at the ready in a workshop... the book is written in free-verse, wonderfully written.  The late David Wisniewski's artwork is beautiful cut-paper.  Throughout the text, a young apprentice assists in the creative of a carousel.  It introduces the reader to the "tools" necessary to create something worth building with pride and care.  I'm thinking it will be a nice companion text to use during our beginning of the year discussions of the "tools" we use as learners... comparing and contrasting a wonderful metaphor for learning.
     The second book is Wendel's Workshop by Chris Riddell.  In this book, Wendal is a mouse inventor... who experiments, starts over, experiments, starts over.  He invents a robot name Clunk to help tidy up his experiments, but eventually sends Clunk to the junk pile after he makes a few frustrating mistakes (Clunk is, well, Clunky and awkward).  Wendle then builds a bigger, more aggressive robot named Wendelbot, who goes a bit "wacko" and sends Wendel to the junk heap only to be reunited with Clunk.  Using the remains of his previous experiments--broken pieces and parts--he creates an army of robots to take over the workshop.  In the classroom, I will use this text to discuss the decision-making involved in experimentation and developing endurance as learners.  It's a quaint little book.  Simple story line, but with a message that can be easily compared to the workshop structure!
    It's important that we talk to learners about the workshop structure.  It's important that help learners their roles and responsibilities within the workshop structure.  It's important to challenge students to view their learning through the lens of literature and how their responsibilities fit within the workshop structure.  
     Is there a better way than through the use of literature? 


  1. Ooh! wonderful suggestions! THank you.

  2. Just added these to my wish list. Thanks!