The Story Workshop Format
The Story Workshop format is a series of activities that build sequentially. The teacher coaches in each activity and creates a guided discovery about each student's perceptions regarding authentic telling and writing voice.
Step 1 ORAL TELLING
The teacher coaches students to see or envision a place. Students are coaches to tell it across the semi-circle in their own language as they see it, to use naturally vivid and precise gestures to help tell them, and to be aware of what their audience needs to know in order to see it as clearly as they are seeing it. This heightens the sense of internal listening.
Step 2 WRITING
The teacher coaches the students to pick out someone from across the semi-circle to tell the story to. Get out a piece of paper. Write "Dear Blair" at the top of the page and tell the place story to that person, beginning with what is taking your attention most strongly. Tell it as fast and fully as you can. Keep your eye on what you are telling, and listen to your voice as you write. Periodically, the teacher offers side-coachings that re-affirm these directions.
Step 3 READ-BACK
The teacher coaches the student for sense of address, seeing, listening to her voice as she reads -- all the things coached during oral reading of models and during in-class writing. The read back allows students to hear immediately where the voice is coming through on the page forcefully, freely, clearly, coherently -- and, by contrast, those places where it slides off base, becomes twisted in syntax, fails to hold the reader's attention, and loses physical presence. The whole sequence of activities and coachings encouraging discoveries about voice provides a supportive, demanding environment for experimentation and a deeply integrative base from which students build confidence and competence in the wide range of writing tasks they face in and out of school. (Albers 10-13)
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