Welcome to our approach we call Room to Breathe (R2B). Room to Breathe is so much more than a traditional reader and writer workshop. R2B was born when we realized that all the strands of Language Arts have equal weight in our curriculum: reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing. When we looked at literacy through this much more generous lens, we understood that our grade 8 students are indeed masterful content consumers and creators, and our Language Arts program could harness this. And if we did, we thought amazing things would happen.
When they're designing their projects, students select a goal to focus on. The goals - 8 each for Inhales and Exhales - come from our curriculum and are a synthesis of all the learner outcomes our students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of the school year. Each goal must be completed once by the end of the year. We are intending to complete two rounds (three months each) of R2B.
Before beginning a project, students must get approval from the teacher. At this point, we set a due date for the project, which becomes the student's conference date. Assessment is completed fully through conferencing.
Here is the goals sheet.
In R2B, students self-design projects that include an Inhale (Reading, Listening, Viewing) - in other words, text interpretation - and an Exhale (Writing, Speaking, Representing) - in other words, text creation.
The Inhale and the Exhale connect, and the interpretation of a text leads the student towards the creation of their own text.
One round of R2B takes about three months of class time. By the end of the round, students must have completed each strand at least twice.
We love to share our stuff with anyone who can use it. Here's the planning sheet.
And here's the document to help students prepare for their conference.
Resources That Have Influenced Us:
Beyond Literary Analysis by Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O'Dell
Point-Less: An English Teacher's Guide to More Meaningful Grading by Sarah M. Zerwin
Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman
Hacking the Writing Workshop by Angela Stockman
Get in Touch
We love to hear from you. Please contact us using the form below!
Erin Quinn & Tara Vandertoorn
Calgary, Alberta, Canada