ten tips for writing workshop

Here are ten tips for writing workshop:

Tip 1: keep the routine of writing workshop consistent.  

always start with a focus lesson (mini-lesson)  on the rug, lots of time to write and a ten to fifteen minute share time. we can sometimes be so busy to finish and move on to the next part of our day we might skip the share. we would urge you not to, there are lots of teaching opportunities during that time and kids LOVE to share!! Leah Mermelsten wrote a whole book about the sharing time and the teaching impact it can have on our little ones!

Tip 2: Rally the kids about writing time.

our energy and excitement about workshop time impacts all of our students.   before a new unit of study begins build excited by creating a sign outside your classroom door “nonfiction writing coming soon… two mores days."  this will build excitement about the new unit. on the classroom calendar mark the beginning and end of the unit. this also allows kids who may not love the current kind of writing to know that there is an end in sight and that they get to transition to a new genre.  try to stick to the timeline. if a unit gets dragged on too long, the class could lose interest. momentum is the key!

Tip 3: Have the kids help you set up for workshop time.  

this helps kids anticipate what will happen next and gets them moving around the classroom before having to sit and listen. right after setting up, we go to the rug for the focus lesson. since the classroom is set up for writing, once students are dismissed from the rug, they can get right to work!


Tip 4: use your anchor chart to dismiss kids from the rug. 

 For example I may say, if you are working on making your writing easy to read, you may get started. if you are working on adding details to your pictures and words, you may get started. the kids who are unsure what to do can stay on the rug and the teacher can work with them right away.   we find that students will quickly find something to work on.

tip 5: the power of partnership.

there is power in having a writing partner. instead of having the author’s chair for fifteen minutes, have partners share for five minutes and the author's chair for ten. students will realize that if someone does not work during workshop time, then they will have nothing to share. knowing that you are going to have to share every day will motivate students to write. you will need to circulate during partner time at first to set up this routine as an expectation. try to keep partners together for as long as possible. 

tip 6: don’t let kids erase.

teach kids to cross out or give them black felt pens for writing erasing can be a stall tactic and when they do erase, the often put holes in their paper...not good for reread reading and very messy. another bonus to using the pen is that children realize that they should try to write neatly, because it is “permanant”.

tip 8: save samples of kid work.

the year gets so busy that we sometime forget this important tip but try to save samples of student work for mentor text. try to save a few different examples (not just the strongest) to use for the next year.

tip 9: create a risk taker or strategy sign 

when teaching a new concepts hang up a sign and say ________ has tried this. you’ll be surprised at how many student will be willing to try something new because you gave them recognition.

writing long and strong
The kids could record how long and strong they wrote that day by putting a Post-it

expert at writing time
an expert seed story writer

 tip 10: make someone famous in your class.

can you imagine what it would feel like if the teachers put your story on the bulletin and highlighted your strengths? the first grade teachers in our building find a way to make each child famous by putting their story on the bulletin board and naming what they did.

we all want to feel famous someday, why not start in first grade.

happy almost friday!

jessica & laura & melissa

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