Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday {writer's workshop}

I am linking up with Cara Carroll and participating in her "Throwback Thursday". Now my throwback isn't a very far throw. Just back to April. But it's a good post that I thought would be good to share as we start thinking about next year and how we want to structure our teaching. So read up on how I do writer's workshop in my classroom!


As I scrolled through my blog reel today I came across Rachelle Smith's blog "What the Teacher Wants". Everyone knows her! She's amazing. I absolutely love her. Her Holidays Around the World is one of my favorite units. Ok, back to the point of this post. She wrote about her writing conferences and I thought, "ya know, I'm going to write about my writer's workshop too!" It's one of my favorite times of the day!

My district has taken on the workshop model for all of our main subjects; reading, writing, and math. The workshop model is divided into 3 parts: mini lesson, independent learning, and sharing. So my writer's workshop is just that. 15 mini lesson, 30 minutes of independent writing, and 5 minutes of sharing. The 5 minutes of sharing normally is tacked onto the last 5 minutes of the 30 minutes of writing. Sometimes there's just not enough time in the day!

Our mini lessons are pulled from my districts scope and sequence and we also pull alot from Lucy Calkins. If you don't know who she is, google her! Her books are amazing. They are completely scripted for you and the kids seem to love those lessons.

After the mini lesson, I dismiss the students back to their desk for independent writing time. It is completely silent during this time. You may ask, "how do you keep them silent the whole time?" My answer is PRACTICE! We had to start with smaller chunks of writing time and more sharing time. It took till probably Christmas before they were ready to go the full 25-30 minutes. I had to introduce what they can write, where to get their supplies, etc. I will save all of that for another blog post.

I meet with 5 students daily at my round table. They know their day and immediately get their supplies and come to my table. I rotate between students helping them with their stories. I use the following recording sheet to keep track of my students progress. For the column "writing process" I just put what part of the writing process are they in. Of course they are at the conference point, but since they meet me at random times in their stories, I always like to document what part of the writing process they are at. Just print, copy back to back, put into a binder, and voila! You have a writer's workshop conference binder! Click the picture to download.

For sharing time, I use three questions that the writer says after they share their story to get the students listening involved. This way the "chatter" will stay down because everyone is involved; the reader and listeners. The idea comes for Lucy Calkins.

The questions are:
1. What do you remember about my story?
2. Do you have any questions about my story?
3. Do my story remind you of anything?

These questions open up so much dialogue! The one who is sharing also knows to ask "could you write a story about that?" after the "do you have any connections to my story?" That way the asker now has an idea for a new story. It's some powerful stuff!

Here are the posters in PDF form. They are from the amazing Amy Lemons. Click here to check out her blog post on her writer's workshop.

I hope you enjoyed how writer's workshop works in my room. How do you do writing in your classroom?
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  1. Since I'm so new to your blog I def. missed this post! Writer's workshop was something new to my classroom this year, but I whole heartedly embraced and LOVED teaching writing just as much as my kids LOVED writing!! One thing I've always struggled with is the conferencing piece though! I love the way you do it and am certainly going to have to try it!! We usually do stars & wishes when sharing, but I really liked your questions as well! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. I hope you can use these resources in your classroom! Thanks for stopping by Kelli!


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