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Writers’ Workshop & Project Based Learning at Cayman International School

Cayman International School (CIS) was honored to host the dynamic professional development to support the writing instruction, using evidence-based effective strategies. The focus of the training was to deepen the teachers’ understanding and implementation of the Writers’ Workshop Teachers’ College Units of Study. The implementation supports an inquiry approach to the writing mini-lessons and allows for individualized student conferencing and strategy groups.

To model this approach, our presenter, Natashya Hays, conducted lab sites in three classes with students, while grade level teams of teachers observed. The Natashya presented a 10-minute mini-lesson to the students using an inquiry approach to engage the students. Most of the workshop time was devoted to students’ writing their narratives. This provided opportunity for individualized conferencing based on the student need. In addition, teachers observed Natashya meeting with a strategy group on one specific skill. While conferring with students, Natashya would pull teachers aside and debrief the instructional need for the class. The end of each workshop model concluded with a share out, whereas students reflected on how they improved their story that day. These sessions were very powerful to see the workshop model in action with students of all abilities and grade levels. This concrete observations drove the content and discussion for the remainder of the professional development.

These lab site lessons, were conducted in a 1st grade, 3rd grade and 4th grade classes, allowing teachers to observe different strategies with different age groups.

The afternoon session was dedicated to analyzing the workshop model and deconstructing the mini-lessons.  In grade level teams, teachers analyzed the upcoming Units of Study for the writing genres and developed and prioritized the mini-lessons for the new writing genre.  

On the second day, Natashya Hays provided several sessions for supporting educator roles. One hour focused on literacy coaching in the classroom to support the ongoing work of implementing the units of study. Natashya also provided a session and individualized presentation for learning support teachers. In this session, she addressed specific concerns on how to support students with different learning needs, even when the student may not receive learning support services daily. Strategies to scaffold the lesson, document progress and resources were provided to teachers.

Afternoon sessions included analyzing student writing rubric results to best meet the instructional needs of the students and writing across the content areas for secondary level teachers.  


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