A Happy Marriage: Workshop Model and AFL

Whilst attending a recent 2 day workshop about Assessment For Learning ( AFL) with Dylan Wiliam, it was apparent that there was a strong connection between AFL and the principles and strategies underlying Reading and Writing Workshop.


Assessment For Learning is based on the work of Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black and is grounded in the concept of using assessment strategies to improve student learning rather than just measure it. The five key strategies are:
  1. clarifying and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success
  2.   engineering effective classroom discussions, questions and tasks that elicit evidence of learning
  3.   providing feedback that moves learners forward
  4.   activating students as instructional resources for each other
  5.   activating students as owners of their own learning
Workshop is based upon teaching the skills and strategies of becoming effective readers and writers and relies on ongoing student assessment. The five key strategies of AFL are inherent in the practices of workshop.

For example:
  • Teacher conferring involves working with writers to identify where they are and provide feedback to move them forward
  • In the Mini-Lesson, the learning intention for the session is explicitly stated.
  • The technique of Turn and Talk and other discussion feedback strategies provides the teacher with evidence of current understanding
  • The use of student exemplars, mentor texts and rubrics enables students to be clear about success criteria and see examples of them being achieved.
  • Reading and Writing partnerships enable students to engage in collaborative learning, both giving and receiving feedback to aid progress.
  • The elements of choice and independence inherent in workshop, activates students responsibility as owners of their learning.
  • The use of writing continuums and rubrics with the on demand piece at the beginning of a unit provides evidence of where the child currently is and possible next steps.

I have started to create a list of specific AFL strategies and where they can be applied within Reading and Writing Workshop. I'm sure it will continue to grow. Check out the list here.

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