My school uses the workshop model in classes. We also have a problem of practice that states that the students will be doing the majority of the reading, writing and speaking in class.
Well, this is great in theory, but what if your kids aren't ready for it? I have some kids who can't really read the textbook. They can read it, but they don't understand it. I had a meeting with my principal about this fact - that my kids can't function independently yet and I think we came up with some good solutions.
Instead of running one workshop per period (like most of the other classes in the school) - I will start running two short workshops. This way I can focus on one simple idea for each workshop and give the kids a little bit of time to work with that idea independently, but cut down on the amount of independent reading they have to do during the workshop time. We will still be reading, but when you have a tiny section planned and do some of it together in a mini-lesson it doesn't seem as daunting to my struggling readers. It is also easier for them because all of the reading will be on one topic instead of a few different topics that require them to mentally shift gears.
I have also come up with the idea of assessing my students after each mini-lesson. Just a short quiz that should take less than five minutes. The important part of this is that students will know how they are doing on a subject right away. Once students have a good picture of how they are performing they might be more motivated to work harder or go back and relearn material they didn't understand before a test. I know some kids won't do this, but I do think some will.
The bottom line is that this kids need to learn how to be students. I am hoping these changes will help them figure that out so they can be successful in all of their classes. I do think that these kids who struggle would do a lot better in a self-contained classroom. The consistency and structure would help them a lot since it seems like they lose their minds every time the bell to switch classes rings.
Do you have an idea to help kids learn how to be students? Please share!