Workshop Model School


Readers Workshop ~ Writers Workshop ~ Math Workshop

At Jackson Elementary, we believe that the child must be the center of all learning.

What this means for us as educators is that we have to give up traditional instructional models such as lecturing and skill drilling. Instead, our teachers use the “workshop model” in order to make sure that each and every student is highly engaged and is working on materials appropriate to their specific proficiency level.

Over the past decade, the workshop model has been documented as one of the most effective instructional models.

For our students, this approach begins with the design of our classroom.

You will not find desks in rows facing a blackboard! Instead, you will find a series of small tables or desks with 4 to 6 students at each, and the teachers circulate throughout the room to work with students in these small groups and individually. In traditional models, students are assessed at the end of units and their overall grade indicates their “skill level.” This big approach does not help the student or teacher to improve student learning.

Instead, Jackson Elementary uses ongoing assessments to identify precisely how our students are performing. Think of it this way. In the past, at the end of a math unit on addition, “Johnny” scores a 60% on the test, indicating that he mastered 60% of the unit. “Johnny” is behind, but all we can tell him is to “work harder.” At Jackson Elementary, teachers review student work daily to identify what the challenges are for students as they work to master skills and strategies. During a workshop, the teacher may observe that “Johnny” is able to count to 20 and add single digit numbers with great mastery but has trouble adding double-digit numbers. The teacher can focus Johnny’s work on mastering the double-digit addition instead of repeating work in the area he has already mastered. We call this approach “differentiated instruction” because the teacher provides different—targeted—instruction to each student based on the student’s skills and needs.

Why are we doing this?

Workshop is an instructional method in which the goal is to teach students strategies for learning. The workshop model, or GRR framework, allows teachers to differentiate and meet the needs of all their students. Workshop helps foster a love of learning by engaging students who practice independently and collaboratively with guidance.

Big 4 Purposes:

  • Student Achievement Results
  • Engaged and connected students learning and enjoying school
  • The workshop model/GRR supports district initiatives and proven national best practices for learning in effective schools.
  • Over the past decade, the workshop model has been documented as one of the most effective instructional models.

GRR / Workshop Implementation Plans

Focused Instruction is whole class explicit teaching where the teacher establishes a clear learning purpose for learning and explains a strategy, skill, or task through modeling or demonstration and thinking aloud to foster metacognitive awareness. For reading, the Focused Instruction phase is approximately 5-15 minutes.

Teacher is…

  • Using “I Can” statements
  • Modeling skill or strategy by describing what he/she is thinking
  • Using academic vocabulary
  • Establishing purpose of the lesson

Students are…

  • Making connections to student learning target
  • Talking about the lesson purpose
  • Following classroom expectations for active listening
  • Understanding the goals of instruction

Guided Instruction is the “WE DO IT” phase. Guided Instruction is small-group instruction where the teacher focuses on scaffolding students’ developing skill or knowledge through questioning, prompting, and cueing. Meanwhile, the other students engage in collaborative or independent learning.

Teacher is…

  • Listening to a small group of students
  • Asking questions, prompting, cueing, and providing direct explanations
  • Making anecdotal notes

Students are…

  • Reading on-level text independently
  • Actively applying oral reading strategies
  • Engaged in comprehension conversations/text-based discussions

Collaborative Learning is the “YOU DO IT TOGETHER” phase. Students learn to apply knowledge and skills previously learned in a supportive environment with others. Collaborative learning routines and protocols allow students to become more independent learners who can assume more responsibility for their learning and the learning of their peers.

Teacher is…

  • Providing clear directions for individual and group accountability
  • Checking for understanding
  • Moving in and out of groups providing guided instruction as needed

Students are…

  • Turn and Talk
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Discussion Roundtable
  • Collaborative posters
  • Reciprocal Teaching
  • Jigsaw
  • Literature Circles/Book Clubs

Independent Learning is the “YOU DO IT ALONE” phase. The focus is on the role of application as students spend time working and thinking alone.

Teacher is…

  • Noticing and observing
  • Provide scaffolding if needed
  • Provide effective feedback
  • Conferring with students
  • Providing clear directions for individual accountability

Students are…

  • Thinking about their thinking (metacognition)
  • Applying previously learned skills and strategies independently
  • Figuring things out and learning from mistakes
  • Regulating their actions