Writer's Workshop

Writer's Workshop

Writing is FUN! Chances are, if you tell your students this, some will nod enthusiastically, while several others might shake their heads in disagreement and share looks of disapproval. Many students simply find writing to be quite difficult, and for some, it comes across as more of a chore than an enjoyable experience. After all, it can be time-consuming and requires multiple steps, in turn, potentially leading to boredom, frustration, or both.

The good news? There are many techniques and tips to help your students feel confident and excited about writing in the classroom and in their everyday lives. Let's be honest, as educators, writing can be an overwhelming subject to teach effectively to our students, but we're here to help!

We use writing daily, making it an important skill that must be done well. Helping our students to realize this, along with the positive results that writing can bring, is half the battle of starting the process towards confident and excited authors.

Helping students to gain skills in writing can be achieved in multiple ways. One of the most effective ways is through the consistent use of incorporating a Writer's Workshop into your classroom to help learners become proficient writers. Teachers can introduce elements of Writer's Workshop at any elementary grade, starting as soon as Kindergarten.

What exactly is Writer's Workshop?

Writer's Workshop is a consistent time in the classroom that focuses on three main parts to help introduce, practice, and improve writing:

  1. a mini lesson
  2. status of the class/independent writing
  3. sharing/closing

The bulk of the time spent will be on independent writing, but the beauty of Writer's Workshop is that it can, and should, be flexible. As the teacher, you have the ability to use this time to work on whichever skills you think might benefit your learners during the mini-lesson with where they are currently at in their writing process or project.

Perhaps a brief lesson on how to brainstorm, or on choosing the correct punctuation marks, a focus on spicing up boring word choices to make them sizzle, or teaching learners how to peer review might be most beneficial right now. Writer's Workshop is a time for students to dive into getting their ideas onto paper, onto their computer, or their tablet.

We recommend providing each learner with a folder and a composition book. This should be kept together in a safe spot in their desks, or collected daily. When it's time to write, or type, students will know that they need to have these materials in order to get started. As you begin planning, check out the section that meets the needs of your specific grade-level best.

The Writing Process

Students will use the writing process over and over throughout the year as they brainstorm, draft, revise, edit, and publish. An important part of Writer's Workshop is modeling how the writing process works and why it is so important to use. Discuss the process with your students as you model a prompt. Students should be able to identify which step of the writing process they are on when asked so you can assess how far along they are in their work. This also can help you to recognize when a student might seem "stuck."" Writing is a process, not simply a product, and Writer's Workshop will allow students to take ownership for their work, gain guidance, and receive support and feedback from their peers.

Primary Learners

To get primary learners ready to write, it is important to help them understand WHY becoming a great writer is necessary. Ask them to think about reasons they might like to write. Some examples are below:

Writers write:

  • to share their feelings
  • to share ideas
  • to share their experiences
  • to communicate
  • to share important events
  • to teach others
  • simply because they love to write

While establishing your Writer's Workshop, discuss WHAT students might write:

  • I can write:
  • Stories
  • Poems
  • Letters
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • E-mails
  • Text Messages
  • Jokes
  • Lists
  • Cards
  • Blogs
  • Reports
  • Recipes

Finally, also focus on sharing the work habits of GOOD writers. Ensure that students understand that Writer's Workshop is a time to practice and learn, but also a time to help them feel more comfortable and content with the writing process. Good writers do the following:

Good writers:

  • Edit and fix their mistakes
  • Have writing stamina
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Use details
  • Use correct punctuation
  • Stay the course
  • Stay in control

Writing goals vary by grade level and Writer's Workshop can be effectively used with ALL learners. We'll show you how! Depending upon your current objectives and curricular goals, choose the resources below that are applicable.