Focus and craft lessons are necessary components of writing workshop. Writers need time to practice, to experiment, to take risks.
Providing writers with examples of craft, imitating that craft in front of students, creating craft with student writers as a group, and giving them the time to practice the craft themselves, all contribute to their willingness to attempt new strategies in their writing.
When we share our own writing with our students, we demonstrate that we are writers too—writers who struggle, writers who get stuck, writers who problem-solve. When we ask students to confer with us, we show that we are members of the writing community; we take part in the ongoing process of writing.
If writers are to show change; if they are to become better writers tomorrow than they are today, they need mentors. Mentors may be fellow writers in the classroom too. More on that tomorrow.