Writing Workshop

writing workshop
What is Writing Workshop?

  • Writing workshop is another of the key components in a balanced literacy program.
  • Writing Workshop is a teaching technique that invites students to write by making the process a meaningful part of the classroom curriculum. Writing is an expected activity on a daily basis. Students are exposed to the organization and thought required to create a story or write about a favorite topic.  Because they are allowed to choose the topic, students are motivated to create and complete writing to share with classmates.
  • For the youngest students, whose skills vary greatly, the goal is to elicit a story from a drawing, recording the student’s words in dictation form on the drawing and encouraging the student to move from drawing to writing by guiding the student in the use of phonics to sound out words. Eventually, students become empowered and will become more independent and fluent writers.  When combined with reading activities Writing Workshop can create a powerful and motivating tool for teaching literacy.
  • Writing workshop is not just journals, it’s a lesson sequence that if followed can help achieve the goals listed above.  See the lesson sequence below.

How is Writing Workshop structured?
The lesson sequence for writing workshop is as follows:

  • Mini-Lesson (5-15 minutes depending on the lesson, some may run longer, some shorter- it depends on the lesson)
  • Independent writing/Conferencing (the bulk of your time is spent here, 30 minutes or more, but shorter in the beginning of the year)
  • Share Time (5-10 minutes)

What is a mini-lesson?

  • A mini-lesson is a brief, focused, teacher directed activity done in a whole group setting.
  • Teaches specific strategies through demonstration and modeling, such as selecting a topic to write about.

Can you give me an example of what a mini-lesson looks like?

  • It depends on the time of the year you are doing the mini-lesson.  In the beginning of the year you need to teach “procedural” mini-lessons to teach the children how writing workshop works, then, after they have learned the procedures you can move into more content.
  • An example of a procedural mini-lesson you might teach in the beginning of the year would be one about how to use crayons and pencils properly.
  • An example of a regular lesson would be one about how good writers put spaces between their words.  Again, it depends on the time of the year you are teaching the lesson, and the ages and ability levels of your students.

What do the students do during independent writing time? During independent reading time students are writing/drawing in their writers notebooks or booklets.  They are incorporating what they learned from the mini-lesson into their writing.

What does the teacher do during independent writing time?

  • The teacher will be looking for evidence of students who are incorporating what they learned from the mini-lesson into their independent writing and observing their actions as writers.
  • The teacher will be conferencing with students.
  • Teachers will spend more time circulating and reinforcing good writing behaviors in the beginning of the year and more time conferencing later in the year after the students have learned the procedures.

What does share time look like? During share time the teacher may select a few students that he/she noticed were incorporating strategies learned during the mini-lesson into their writing. Those students then share their writing and strategies with the class. Teachers may have to ask guiding questions to elicit desired responses. It is also beneficial to ask students questions about who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Writing Workshop Resources:

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