They are lessons that focus less on content and more on behavior and the structure of writing workshop. If we are learning about hooks then we analyze the hook, if we are learning about citing evidence then we look at that, if we are looking at how to write effective conclusions then we analyze that.
Mentor texts and lessons about how to use them, see below 3. The one thing I wanted more from the book was skill-based lessons that could be mini-lessons for whole-class instruction during the time of student literature circles.
For example, if you're teaching "Grapes of Wrath"the Great Depression topic page has a short overview of the social, political, and economic conditions of the period, as well as photo slideshows of both black and white and color photographs from the era.
What contemporary connections can students find in The Times?
If you are going to teach using the writing workshop method then you should explicitly teach students the structure of writing workshop. I love giving the power over to my students in being creators of their own education, and literature circles definitely provide that.