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The Writing Shop

Putting 'Shop' Back in Writing Workshop

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Suzanne Farrell Smith

Since the 1970s, writing workshop has been a go-to method for teaching writing. It’s helped students of all ages find their voices and stories while developing skills and craft. In The Writing Shop, the author reimagines what writing workshop can be. By studying workshops of different kinds—carpentry, textile, machine—she pushes us to see writing workshop the way other makers see their own shops, as places where creativity is fueled by the sensory experience. When the essential elements of all workshops are adopted in writing workshop, the author argues, writers will flourish.

The author builds on writing workshop literature to introduce the model to newcomers, while offering practical advice for those looking to strengthen their writing instruction. The Writing Shop illustrates what happens when writing is taught in an authentic shop: play is prioritized, all types of learners are included, and a host of skills beyond the mechanics of composition are embedded in the process of learning to write.

With its stories from diverse workshops and emphasis on exploration and experimentation, The Writing Shop shows us that learning to write can be, above all things, fun.