Writer's Workshop

 Writer's Workshop Notes for forming Strategy Groups FREEBIE!  Done well = blue pen    Needs Instruction=red pen     This tool  is so handy for forming strategy groups, conferencing, and forming final grades!  Just CLICK the PIC for a copy!

I absolutely love teaching writing!!! I was so glad when my district implemented Writer's Workshop!  It really made me think about my own writing and how I process and proceed as a writer. I do believe having to teach it has made MY writing even better.

You cannot teach writing without modeling your own thinking!  Some days I have my modeling lesson written out and as I show the children my thinking, I refer to it. They have no idea that I've written it ahead and it really does include my thinking at the time!  Other days I let my imagination fly right in front of the kids.  It really depends on the lesson.  Many times I type onto the Smart board screen while the room is darkened and I think aloud with my back to the class.  It is just like they are looking over my shoulder and watching!  Having the lights out focuses their attention off of my face and onto following the writing. It also signals quiet :)  If I'm not typing, then I use the doc camera and write. Seems like shorter lessons work best here.

If I have one great thing to pass on to other teachers it is to give the lesson in pieces. As a newbie teacher I used to present the whole assignment and just say "go".  I was so disappointed with the results.  Slowly I realized that if I started with one little piece, modeled it, and then told the class to work on just that one little part for a few minutes....magic happened! They weren't overwhelmed; they were focused!!!  For example...just write a hook and no more!

So now I let them work until I see a few children getting done. Then  I start "checking in".  "Let's check in writers to see how we are doing on this part."  Hands go  up because they are confident that they can handle the little lesson.  I  have 4-5 read aloud and  ask the others, "What do you hear?  How did ___ follow the lesson?"    They are so eager to give compliments and critiques.  Checking in as a group helps EVERY STUDENT to hear a suggestion that I give for making their writing better! As the year goes by, we all trust each other as writers and like to hear feedback to become better. Once I know the class is on the right track, I let them work a little longer and then model and teach the next part.

 If someone is struggling and I don't feel they are implementing the lesson, I give suggestions at their spot (desk, table, floor area).  This student will be one that I call on to read again at the closing of the lesson so that he/she can show the class that they have it!  

Checking in EARLY and OFTEN made my kids' writing soar!

Setting up a Writing Station is a lot of fun! Who doesn't love that time in July when teaching supplies burst out of every aisle of every store? Sigh... I  will always love the smell of a new box of crayon. The list above is a basic list if you are just getting started.  As the years go by, you will have a plethora of supplies to set out during specific genre studies.  

Keep a lookout in magazines and such for pictures that make great prompts.  They could show scenery or something going on.  Just hole punch and put on keyrings and throw them in a basket.  Kids love thumbing through them to find just the right one.

Best tip:  Students go through paper fast! For each different kind have one sheet that is laminated. Place this sheet in the stack to warn of low supply. (I put mine 8 sheets up from the bottom.)  The child who gets this sheet should know where to put it so that you know the supply needs replenished.

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