Unleashing Creativity: The Workshop Revolution in Our School

Unleashing Creativity: The Workshop Revolution in Our School

Writing is not a task assigned to be done at home in isolation; writing takes place in the classroom where students can receive feedback from their peers and the teacher. Penny Kittle

Starting from the previous academic year, our school has opted for a workshop-oriented methodology in the teaching of Italian, placing a special emphasis on both writing and reading skills. The approach, known as the Writing and Reading Workshop, traces its origins back to the educational revolution spearheaded by Donald Murray in 1972 and continued by Donald Graves in the 1980s. Currently, the “Teachers College Reading and Writing Project,” under the leadership of Lucy Calkins, a professor of Children’s Literature at Columbia University, is reaping the rewards of this pedagogical approach.

Calkins’ teaching strategies, established through a teaching and learning center she founded in 1990 in Maine, are centered around writing and reading in the classroom. The Writing and Reading Workshop aligns seamlessly with the National Guidelines for the curriculum, which emphasize a competency-based teaching approach where “the student is placed at the center of the educational action in all its aspects.”

Every week, our students engage in the writing workshop routine using activators that stimulate production, such as a writer’s notebook, a diary, or a free exercise notebook. Within these tools, students jot down words, draw, and use them as true prompts for their writing. The teaching of writing has evolved from a traditional transmission model to a workshop-based approach, emphasizing a methodology of practice.

It has become a highly structured routine, not rigid but flexible, designed based on the class transforming into a community of writers. In this setting, teachers act as coaches, guiding students, as the ultimate goal of the writers’ community is personalization for each individual student.

This method focuses on the process of writing rather than the final product because writing is a skill cultivated in school and for life. It is not merely an assignment to be done at home; instead, it is a genuine moment of writing.

In the same way and with the same approach, the school at Rosà has implemented the Writing and Reading Workshop methodology to create communities of readers in each class within the larger school community. For years, the school has been promoting reading by participating in school network projects and library loan promotion activities.

Why embrace the Writing and Reading Workshop and establish a reading workshop? We all know that Italy faces a significant reading problem. After the age of 12, students tend to lose their passion for books. To encourage them to explore various genres, we must help them understand the pleasure of reading in the classroom. Therefore, the appropriate approach is not to make reading a mandatory and forced task, with performances that need to be evaluated.

We have structured the workshop in a way that allows students to experience the pleasure through the only feasible path where the two elements (book and student) can meet. This approach is based on the concept of ‘choice.’ As educators, when we allow students to choose, abandoning preconceptions about whether a book is good or bad for reading, and letting them choose what they want, we have sparked a love for reading with excellent results.

Mrs. Marta Grigoletto

Italian Language and Literature Teacher and SEN Specialist

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