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Bonnie Campbell Hill Award Recipients

2015 WA State Literacy Leader Award
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2015 National Teacher Leader Award
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Citation: Akhavan, Nancy. (2008). The Content-Rich Reading & Writing Workshop: A Time-Saving Approach for Making the Most of Your Literacy Block. New York, NY: Scholastic.


Title: The Content-Rich Reading & Writing Workshop: A Time-Saving Approach for Making the Most of Your Literacy Block
ISBN:
ISBN-13:
Edition:
Year: 2008
Publisher: Scholastic
City: New York, NY
Medium: Book
Author(s): Akhavan, Nancy
Grades: Fourth Grade to Eighth Grade
Categories: Writing Workshop
Annotation: Nancy Akhavan’s books are both solidly based on research and incredibly practical. In this book, she presents research about why we must integrate content studies into our workshops, stating that “By blending content studies with reading and writing instruction, you can build children’s knowledge without adding on to your already-too-full teaching day” (p. 5). She goes on to discuss the fact that solid content-area instruction can help bridge the achievement gap for minorities, prepare students for high school, and motivate students: “To a tween (those kids at that endearing age between 10 and 12) stuff is interesting. Stuff holds the secret of the universe and stuff makes them smart and capable. We know it as content knowledge, domain knowledge, disciplinary knowledge, and vocabulary” (p. 9). The first three chapters go into depth about pre-reading strategies for nonfiction, learning content while reading nonfiction texts, and five deeper level comprehension strategies (relating to background knowledge, using text structures, asking questions while reading, creating mental images, and summarizing). Chapter Four addresses the role of writing in content-based workshops.

In Part Two of the book, Nancy goes into depth as she explains what a workshop approach looks like, along with specific examples and protocols. She describes the power of this type of intentional teaching: “Workshop instruction is framed by a short but powerful lesson and allows for groups of children to work through ideas together, to learn by discussing, attempting, writing, and sharing. They spend time talking through their thinking and developing knowledge through structured discussion. This is the opposite of a more traditional lesson design, in which children sit at their desks, listen to the teacher, and then quietly and independently complete some type of practice activity” (p. 108). In Chapter Eight, she outlines how to plan out a content-based unit of study. The Appendix is filled with helpful forms for students and for teacher planning. It’s just so hard to fit everything we want to teach into the school day. Intermediate and middle school classroom teachers and literacy coaches will love this very practical book about how to integrate content area curriculum with reading and writing.