To run a successful writing workshop, you'll want to read the materials we've posted regarding Active Learning, Collaborative Learning, and Diagnosing and Responding to Student Writing. The first explains how and why engaging students in writing workshops facilitates learning; the second offers several methods for teaching students how to respond to their peers' writing; the third offers strategies for diagnosis and response that you can model in the writing workshops.
Conducting an engaging and constructive workshop draws on skills you already have as a discussion leader. However, if you've never critiqued student papers in class, you will discover that talking about student writing differs in some important ways from talking about the other readings in your class. First, the writer is in the room. Writing workshops must therefore be sensitively conducted. Second, the aim of the writing workshop is to enhance students' authority and responsibility as readers and writers. The instructor must therefore facilitate rather than direct the discussion. Third, the writing workshop emphasizes the complex role of the reader in a writer's process. Instructors will want to encourage readers to "out" their questions and concerns about a paper so that writers understand the myriad of responses their work has evoked. They will internalize this sense of audience and draw on it as they revise.
While every instructor will discover workshop methods that work for his or her particular classroom, we offer some proven strategies below.
We also have some guidelines for peer review that you might find useful.