The Workshop Model

Streetlight School’s academic model is based on pedagogical approaches which are proven to increase students’ learning progress and develop personal and collaborative skills. The workshop model is central to Streetlight Schools’ approach because it provides a lesson structure that ensures that we manage to achieve these principles:

Learning by doing: students are actively engaged, and practice what they learn through real life exercises and inquiry-based activities.

Differentiated and targeted learning: each student’s work is based on their academic abilities, in order to experience academic mastery as well as inspiring challenges.

Developing accountability: students take active responsibility and initiative for both individual and group work processes.

 

The workshop model is a lesson structure that divides a 45-minute lesson into four specific sessions: Opening, Mini-Lesson, Workshop and Closure.

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The opening (2-3 min) is meant to “hook” the students on the specific theme, concept or activity for the lesson, to create engagement and curiosity. This can be done through a question, a story or a picture that is central to what the students are about to learn. The opening should introduce the learning objective for the lesson as well as set the standard and focus for the day, and usually only lasts for a couple of minutes.

The mini-lesson (10 min) is the teacher’s time to explain, describe and model what the students will learn and work on for the rest of the lesson. The mini-lesson includes informing the class about the different activities and groups in which they with.. Students are gathered in a circle, to focus on the teacher and the instruction.

During the workshop (20-25 min), students explore and practice what they are learning. This is the most important part of the lesson and therefore has the most time allocated. The activities and exercises are directly linked to the content of the mini-lesson, which again is linked directly to the learning objectives set for the lesson in the opening. The group activities are planned and prepared according to the students abilities, hence they will work on differentiated learning material.

As the students work, the teacher confers with them individually and in groups. The aim of conferring is to interact with students and assess their progress. The teacher is there to provide support and scaffold the students’ self-critical thinking in order for the student to work constructively and independently. Practicing conferring helps the teacher to assist the student to stay on task, keep focus and maintain motivation.

The Closure (4-5 min) is a review/debrief of the lesson where the students are given the opportunity to reflect on their own learning and work process. The teacher can ask questions related to the objectives and activities or lead small games in order to recap on the lesson.

 

What are the major advantages of using the Workshop Model?

After we implemented the workshop model in our school, we have seen great outcomes academically and socially, for both students and teachers.

Academic benefits:

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The Workshop Model requires and inspires for changing the teacher role from an authoritative role to being a facilitator of learning. The facilitator role, compared to a traditional teacher role, builds a much more conscious and thorough reflection and practice of how the teaching and learning processes are linked in the classroom.

We have experienced an impressive increase in the students’ academic learning progress as a result of a well-organized and learning-focused school day. Also, we have observed that group-based activities have helped children learn to work together. They have understood that teamwork and collaboration is helpful and they are now eager to teach each other, instead of waiting for the teacher’s help.

The amount of time that the students are actively engaged in academic work is much longer than in traditional classrooms. The students are “learning by doing” instead of acting as passive receivers of the teachers’ instruction. Which again has showed us a high level of academic engagement and motivation for learning in our students.

Social benefits:

The teacher-student relation is stronger than in traditional classrooms. Planning and preparing for differentiated learning requires close interaction between teachers and students which leads to a much more qualified and professional practice from our teachers.

Our students are showing increasing levels of taking responsibility as well as initiative for their own learning processes. Also, the students’ abilities to cooperate, share and take turns are well developed because these are skills they see necessary to use throughout the school day, in every lesson as well as during breaks and after school activities.

 

Conclusion

The Workshop Model has established itself as our standard lesson structure and as a foundation for how we organize our students and their learning processes. It is highly doable in any school and is a great strategy towards creating a more inclusive and academically targeted education system. We are still in the process of developing the model. However, we are convinced that the model enables us to provide quality education with a simple structure tool together with a very inspirational outcome.

 

Marlene Enger

Streetlight Schools Communication Intern