You said that you are teaching a multi-level class in which you are finding it hard to implement reading and writing workshops. While a "split" class is certainly a challenge, I believe there is no better approach than a workshop approach in this situation.
If I was in your shoes, I would make sure that that my mini-lesson each day focused on skills that were necessary for the majority of the class. Based on the ability of the readers in your classroom, you can decide to teach lessons that cover both first and second grade skills. Really when it comes to reading, it is not the grade level that matters but the reading level of your students. I know that I have third graders reading at a 6th grade level and third graders reading at a 1st grade level in my classroom this year. I still teach lessons that are appropriate for the average third grader during my whole-class mini-lessons.
The differentiation occurs during individualized daily reading time
(IDR) when I hold guided reading groups, confer with individual readers, and teach strategy lessons to meet the very specific needs of my readers. It is during this important small-group instructional time that you can really tailor your teaching to meet the needs of all of your students. If your whole-class mini-lessons target the average reader or writer in your classroom, your guided reading lessons and your strategy lessons will be the time when you can work more intensively with your low readers/writers and also really challenge your higher readers and writers.
I wish you the best of luck!!
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