Workshop Variables

Workshop Variables


Whole Group: All students workshop the same document
+ Everyone learns the same lesson (good when goal is to refine principle)
+ Simplest logistics
+ Useful way to make sure everyone is on the same page
- Quiet students can hide from discussion
- Can be hard to keep workshop focused, complicating discussion & take-away

Small Groups:
+ Class can cover more ground
+ Smaller groups encourage more students to engage and contribute
+ Need for coherent report-out requires group members to be goal-driven
+ More flexible
- Require more instructor forethought
- Difficult to monitor more than one or two groups at a time
- Since report-out is selective, students in different groups don't share all learning
- "Strong but Wrong" (dominant personality can lead group, or lead group astray)


Shared Focus (Everyone has the same task):
+ Good for initial work with principle and variations (that is, for tasks that don't yet feel internalized and automatic)
+ Relatively easy for instructor to set up and manage
+ Students can check their responses against classmates'

Multiple Focus (individual students or groups perform different analyses or review different documents):
+ Can cover more ground
+ Reinforces predictability of on-the-page analysis
+ Emphasizes need for all students/groups to be engaged & productive
- Different tasks won't always take same amount of time

Some Special Forms of Group Analysis:

One-Word Whips: In turn, students report-out responses to tightly defined task in 5-10 seconds.
Example prompts:
(Reports of reader response)
" On a scale of 1-5, how convincing did you find the evidence in paragraph 6?"
" On a scale of 1-5, how complex did the syntax feel in sentence 1? 2? 3? etc."
(Structural analyses)
" Which sentence or clause seems to contain the main claim in ¶ 1? 2? 3? etc."
" Raise a counterclaim that this paragraph should have anticipated but didn't ."

Learning Stations: Students are placed in small groups. Then each group sends one or two members to different learning stations set up around the room, with each learning station emphasizing a different aspect of the day's lesson. For example, a week 2 workshop on style might have learning stations asking students to consider (1) which characters can serve as the center of a particular paragraph's story, (2) for a given version of that paragraph's story, which actions are passive and which active, (3) for a given version of that paragraph's story, which actions are imageable, (4) which audiences would be best served by the various possible versions of a that paragraph's story, (5) given a set of circumstances, which versions of the paragraph's story are more ethical?