Modeling in the Classroom

 Effective writing and reading workshops are engaging, student-centered, and rigorous. Moreover, they both have teachers that model what students should do. desks

If I think it’s important for students to live a literate life, I must live a literate life.

My school has a 30 minute reading block daily. There is no direct instruction and my cooperating teacher runs the class. Although it may be boring for some, I always look forward to reading.

Before and after class I ask students what they think of their books. During the class, I read my own young adult novel. I don’t know if it makes a big difference, but if I were a student and my teacher read alongside me, I’d probably have more respect for her and maybe even value reading a bit more, too.

If we expect students to read, shouldn’t we be willing to read, too? And actually do it?


I do the same modeling technique in Eng I, but with writing. The piece we’re writing now is an Arthurian Legend. The students finished reading King Arthur so they know the conventions of Arthurian literature.

I’m teaching all the writing lessons and because I’m writing my own legend, I can better help students write theirs.

We did a Peter Elbow writing minilesson where you write a stream-of-conscious narrative for five minutes. The only rule is that you cannot stop writing.

writing2I hooked my ipad up to the projector and demonstrated the technique with my own story while the students timed me for 30 seconds.

My legend was in rough shape, but I let them read it anyway. They need to know that first drafts are messy and far from perfect. When we started the timer for five minutes, I wrote alongside them with my story still projected for the entire class to see.

Next week we’re doing peer revision and the class will first read my story and provide me with feedback to enhance the piece. They will do this before reading each other’s pieces.

My goal is a community of readers and writers. And I’m a part of the community, too.

(If you want to learn more about modeling, read Penny Kittle’s Write Beside Them of Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer).