Writing workshop teachers use exemplary texts (“touchstone texts”) in the curriculum. We read these texts over and over with students, invite students to share what they notice about the craft of these texts, point out new craft strategies that students are ready to comprehend, and invite students to try using these or similar strategies in their own writing.
The best touchstone texts are sophisticated enough to work across multiple grade and comprehension levels. One of the first—and still one of the most frequent—touchstone texts that I used was The Leaving Morning by Angela Johnson. Here are just a few of the brilliant craft strategies my students and I have discovered in it: