Monday, March 24, 2014

Mirror Images - Haven't We Been Here Before?

English Classes - When I first came to Webster Groves, members of the English department at the middle school and the high school were putting the finishing touches on a book for publication. In the book, Mirror Images: Teaching Writing in Black and White, these teachers described the challenges and victories of teaching writing in a workshop setting to middle school children with a particular emphasis on African American boys.  What they found was that the strategies developed to reach these boys worked with all children.  This was groundbreaking action research and the book was received with great acclaim.

While we have continued the work that these teachers began, over time we have had to modify our classes to accommodate new curriculum goals, some assessments, etc.  However, next year we are going to rededicate ourselves to teaching writing using the workshop model and delve back into Mirror Images, using it as a thematic backdrop for what we plan to do.  After all, the workshop model of teaching reading and writing is the ultimate student-driven model.  It puts the student front and center in their learning, empowering them to make learning decisions on a daily basis and fundamentally changing the role of the teacher from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side".  We have been using the workshop model to some extent in our classes but next year, we plan to make it the primary teaching framework. Sometimes, the best research and methodology is right under our noses!

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