When you close your eyes and envision your ideal classroom… What does it look and sound like during your writing block? Now think about what you actually see on a daily basis with your students. When you visualize your classroom full of writers, is it what you envisioned?
What if I told you that you could create a writing environment where ALL students are working through the writing process, no matter what age or development skill they are working on? Imagine a classroom where each and every one of your students is working hard on writing while you get to quietly counsel, goal set, and pull skill based small groups. This environment IS possible with writer’s workshop!
Setting the Stage
Step one of setting the stage is constructing your writing wall. This is a designated space that will remain in place all year as your students learn and grow as writers. This wall will house your writing objectives, goals you all are working on, the writing process, and anchor charts of current student learning.
While this wall will be built WITH students, it is a good practice to create the space as a placeholder for learning. This means I will add the headers as a preface for our learning with things like: The Writing Process, What Writers Write, What Good Writers Do, etc. However, I will leave the space empty for our class to build these anchor charts together. When they are involved in this process, students more deeply understand the pieces of writers workshop and what makes us good writers. Check out a completed example bulletin board below.
Building our Writers Workshop Together
One secret to making this workshop model successful, is setting it up WITH students.
In order to do this together, creating time and space to do so is crucial. First let’s take a look at what Writers Workshop is. This model is made up of a MINI lesson on what skill you will be working on for the day. After the mini lesson, students are focused during their work time which is the bulk of the learning. This is the time you will pull small groups, you can conference with students, peers can confer together, all while everyone is writing. At the end of the workshop, we conduct a closure activity where we debrief on our learning and maybe do some sharing. This does not always have to look the same each day. However, setting this structure up from day ONE with students will help them understand how the time works and begin to build those routines.
A great way to help students learn and understand all the working pieces of workshop is by creating anchor charts together. Below you’ll see a number of different anchor chart ideas to help students understand who we are as writers, what writers do, and how the writing process works. When the learning takes place TOGETHER, as opposed to simply laying it all out for them, students can build a deep understanding of not only the ‘how’ we do this, but WHY as well.
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These anchor charts can be created day one as a class and are built upon over the course of the unit with students to begin writers workshop. The complete unit is also available for purchase and comes with detailed unit plans for setting up workshop for the ENTIRE year!
Establish a Plan for Students to Get and STAY Organized
Another secret for a successful writer’s workshop is FOLDERS! They are a great way for students to stay organized and to be honest, keep the classroom CLEAN. You know I love some good systems for structure so I HAD to create some writing folders for ALL the organization!
Writing folders can help house all the papers students will need during writing time. Having designated spots for brainstorming and drafting papers, and of course papers that are ready to be shared with the world, helps students stay organized and on track. Take a look below at these super easy to assemble writing folders with labels that you can grab for FREE!
These folders will also help students to understand the writing process, because they will be able to see on a daily basis examples of their writing that still needs work and writing that is ready to share!
Keeping YOU Organized
Of course we need to help keep our students organized, but what about us? Behold the Writing Workshop Binder! Not only can this binder help house your lesson plans, but it is a great place to store student data and stay on top of goal setting progress and mastery. It also makes student feedback and report card time a BREEZE! Things I love to store in the binder are:
Goal Setting Sticky Notes for Easy Use
Unit Lesson Plans
Writing Examples for Students
And SO much more!
Take a look at this video below of the binder I LOVE using!
Let’s Not Forget… ALL the Books!
Always remember, books have your back! I love using literature to help supplement a lesson or skill we’re learning about in class. Read-alouds are fun, the illustrations are way more engaging than anything I could ever draw, and they’re an amazing way to open up all kinds of discussions! There are so many awesome books to use when teaching writing but of course I have to share some of my favorites.
Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
Arthur Writes a Story by Marc Brown
Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter
The Best Story Ever by Eileen Spinelli
Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
These are just SOME of the many wonderful books that can be used to teach about writing and the writing process to students! Be sure to search for diverse books so that all of your writers are represented! It can make all the difference.
Use Writer’s Workshop to Transform Your Writing Block
These are just some of the many things to help you have a successful writing workshop model in your classroom. Helping students become great writers takes a lot of time and support so it’s so important to create a good system for everyone to be successful. Understand that this is a sacred time that can help support ALL students during writing and help them THRIVE. Not only will you love this extra time to support your little writers, but they will love it too. Grab this jam packed resource that gives you EVERYTHING you need to have a successful writers workshop model in your classroom.
Other Writing Resources
Why not load your student’s up with all the support and resources for them to become strong, independent writers? Once you experience the shift of your student’s writing after implementing writing workshop, writing just may become your favorite subject to teach! Below you’ll see some of the other writing resources I love to use during writing. You’ll also find a GROWING bundle of tools and lessons!
I really hope you enjoyed learning about how to successfully implement writing workshop in your classroom! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Looks Like Sounds Like FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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