The Use of Reader Response and Writing Workshops to Counter Stereotypes By William Kerns

Today’s post is from my blogging partner, Dr. William Kerns. Thanks to Bill for this thoughtful entry. Reading Header for the Blog

The Use of Reader Response and Writing Workshops to Counter Stereotypes

By William Kerns

A rising tide of stereotypes and racist actions against people of Chinese and Asian heritage calls on us as educators to not be silent. In this blog, I offer ideas for a digital writing workshop that you might be able to use to promote reading and writing gains as well as critical reflection among your students.

It is possible to set up your digital writing workshop in a low-tech manner, all you really need is an internet connection and computers for communication though it must be stressed that addressing the needs of students who lack ready access to the internet and to computers is a challenge that I do not believe schools nationally are adequately meeting.  Alternately, you can also use various software (PowerPoint, Microsoft movie maker or photostage), or digital storytelling apps (voice thread, photo pad) to help you establish a more high-tech writing workshop. I love to see writing workshops that include choice and multiple modes of creativity.

Prior to the workshop, I recommend involving students in reader response activities with a text that sheds light on Chinese culture or Chinese history, or perhaps the history of Chinese people within the United States. Be sure to invite discussions with students based on the texts. You can use this as an opportunity to explore culture, social structures, and historical circumstances that counter stereotypes. The activities are likely to be more meaningful to students if you place an n emphasis on how those issues touch real people in the present day.

Roseanne Thong’s One is a Drummer: A Book of Numbers and On My Way to Buy Eggs by Chih Y. Chen would both fit into a preschool reader response activity. Grace Lin’s Where The Mountain Meets the Moon would make a fine choice for middle school age readers while her classic Dim Sum For Everyone! Is an excellent choice for young readers. Ed (Tse-Chun) Young’s Lon Po Po is a beautifully illustrated book that opens a doorway to explore folklore. Lensey Namioka explores issues related to feeling like an outsider as an immigrant child in Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Ear. A similar theme is also at the heart of Andrea Cheng’s The Year of the Book. If you want a bit of philosophy in a highly readable, artistic book, try Zen Shorts by John Muth.

You can draw vivid examples from bigotry faced by people of Chinese and Asian heritage historically and in the present day. Critical reflection is an important step toward critiquing common negative stereotypes that exist. Please encourage students to examine the moral implications of ways that conceptions of race can contribute to privileges and disadvantages in society (Delgado et al., 2017). It is my belief that these discussions are needed in order to counter stereotypes at the root of negative backlash faced by people of Chinese and Asian heritage.

In order to address culturally responsive instruction related to people of Chinese and Asian cultures, you might promote critical reflection within a writing workshop which responds to the diverse ways that students are impacted by life-conditions that often include the denial of equitable opportunities. You can do this while you also address the strategies of pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing, and you encourage students to explore appropriate literature and texts. Improvement in the procedures used by skilled writers.

Minilessons can include concepts of knowledge related to writing and culture, the use of detail, and of course improvement in grammar and mechanics in the context of meaningful writing. Carefully choose mentor texts that helps students to study how skilled writers use strategies and anchor charts that remind students of routines and expectations. After students have a chance to write independently, make sure the feedback carefully guides them toward both increasing skill and increasing exploration of writing concepts and concepts that are culturally and socially important to consider (or reconsider if these concepts include stereotypes).

Writing Workshops are engaging ways to help students develop writing skills and explore concepts. I encourage you to combine reader response activities with writing workshops.  Let’s engage students in rich exploration of ideas, identities, as students also develop outstanding skills as readers and writers. We must strive to guide students to act with love and kindness as we ourselves also act with love and kindness. I wish to close this blog with a plea for kindness, for love, and for critique of systemic bigotries and injustices so that we might build a future that is truly beautiful.


Delgado, R. Stefancic, J., & Harris, A. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction (Third

Edition). New York, NY: New York University Press.

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