An Ideal Learner’s Workshop


I love workshop style teaching, probably because it empowers children, and teachers, to learn in ways that best suit them.  It is student-centered, can be self-directed, and is easy, easy, easy, to differentiate to meet the needs of everyone.  A few years ago when I was reading That Workshop Book:  New Systems and Structures for Classrooms that Read, Write, and Think (one of my favorite books of all time), and began to look at classroom design from the standpoint of a “learner’s workshop.”  I started musing about what that ideal classroom might look like:

The ideal learner’s workshop would have:

  • a laptop with internet connection for every student, with appropriate controls so teachers don’t have to monitor every page
  • a smart board
  • networked printers and scanners–more than one!
  • notebooks or tablets for student use

a working place for each subject area: centers is a good term

  • reading
  • classroom library with Dewey decimal organization
  • writing and research area
  • publishing station
  • drama
  • science and nature
  • social studies
  • thinking and contemplation area
  • art
  • music
  • PE
  • meeting area

Each center would have

  • AV media–professional and student-made
  • books–professional and student-made
  • materials appropriate to the subject
  • supplies appropriate to the subject
  • artifacts appropriate to the subject

Each center would be highly organized so there is a place for everything making it easy to maintain. Each one would have some materials that are always available and some that change with the units being studied. They would be spaced around the room with areas for quiet and noisy work. Students would always put things away in the appropriate place because of the wonderful organizational set up.

There would be large areas for work with plenty of space to spread out as well as cozy nooks and crannies for conversation or thinking.

Some areas would be indoors and some would be outdoors.

Everyone would love each other and get along perfectly. There would be the glitter of fairy dust in the air. It would be ideal!  Everyone would learn radically everyday, in their own way, and at their own pace.  It would be the most creative place in the world!

That’s what my learner’s workshop would be.  (You can click here to get a Learner’s Workshop Teacher Plan Book.  Scroll down for PDF, Publisher, or Word versions.)


This entry was posted in Back to School, Classroom Management, Instructional Planning, Integrated Instruction, Learning, Special Education, Teaching Thinking, Thinking About Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Ideal Learner’s Workshop

  1. A writer from the East says:

    This is very interesting Sandie, I can also just picture you and the young students into such a setting. It is a very uplifting image and thanks for sharing with us this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandie says:

      When I was young I dreamed about having a preschool class in a barn on a farm or a cabin in the woods. I’ve worked in a few schools that were close–one was on a river bank, and another was at the edge of a forest. Wherever you are, children are amazing, and are able to do the most astounding things if you let them off the leash, and give them the tools (behavioral and physical) to do something real! The environment helps, but respect and opportunity are the key, at least in my experience!

      Liked by 1 person


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