Last year I moved from having separate reading and writing workshops to one larger literacy workshop. I wanted to hand over more of the responsibility and choice in the learning to my students and to help them see the connections between reading and writing. I was mostly pleased with the results last year and am doing the same thing this year.
We began a bit earlier in the year and, I think, I set things up better beforehand. One big goal for me was having my students make choices that would help them become better readers and writers. So as I introduced various literacy activities we had discussions about how each activity was helping them become better readers and writers. As they worked on various things I would walk around and ask them what they were doing to become a better reader or writer in the hopes that they would begin to recognize the purpose in what they were doing. We created a list of things we could do to help us become better readers and writers and I took pictures of them and we made a list of words that described what we were doing.
When we introduced our L.A.B. (language arts block) I gave each student a checklist. We wanted to ensure they would remember each of the things we expected them to do: guided reading, independent writing, and their work station (listening to a book on the computer, buddy reading big books, practicing high frequency words, etc.). We also wanted to be sure they were thinking about why they were doing each piece of L.A.B., wanting them to internalize things. We used these checklists for a couple of weeks but have phased them out now. (I do have a new, more basic but with more activities checklist for a few students who have limited stamina and need help focusing their time.)
I love what my students wrote about their learning. Glimpses into the minds of six-year-olds never ceases to fascinate me.