How to start and use writer's workshop??

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by teach12, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. teach12

    teach12 Companion

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    Jul 15, 2009

    Can anyone who has used writer's workshop in a first grade classroom share how you start this process? Also, maybe a rough run through of how you may run writer's workshop on any given day. Writing instruction is definitely an area of my teaching that I want to focus on this year so I am looking for all the great ideas I can get. Thanks!
     
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  3. RugRats

    RugRats Companion

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    Jul 16, 2009

    I introduce Writer's Workshop the very first week of school. We talk about the tools for writing (explore the Writing Corner), the procedures/rules, about being an author and illustrator, what we will learn this year as authors and so on. The first week is a lot of class discussion with only 5-10 minutes of writing.

    Week two I begin my mini lessons (10-15 minutes) and increase their writing time to 10-15 minutes. There have been classes that needed another week of 5-10 minutes (15 had them rocking in their seat). There have also been classes that jumped right in and wanted 20-30 minutes. For share time or author's chair during the second week I share with the class what wonderful things I see them doing. We may also talk about something we'll work on for the next day. The second week I still do no conferencing. I am very hands on, walking around and redirecting or encouraging.

    Week three we are rocking and rolling. I teach my mini lessons, they jump right in with 10-20 minutes of writing and I stand back and see how they do without me constantly there. For share time I start picking 1-2 students that are working hard on their piece, used information taught in my mini lesson, or tried something new and wonderful. They read a sentence or two that we have talked about before they go up. I NEVER let them read their whole story.

    Usually around week four or five everything is in place and I begin conferencing with 1-2 students a day. I've tried to meet with more, but most of the time is never works out quite how I plan it :).

    Like I said above, I have a writing corner. This is where students go to grab a blank draft of their choice and jump in. There are also extra erasers, pencils, file folder word walls, and dictionaries. I have crayons, markers, and colored pencils too, but I require my students to wait until they finish their writing piece to color. They can draw their picture before writing, but not color it in. From experience, I have learned that a lot of my students will spend DAYS on coloring their picture.

    Since my room does not have the space for students to find their own writing spot each student has their own office. If they want privacy they use it. If they don't mind people asking for help or reading their piece they don't. If someone is being disruptive I will ask them to use it :).

    Students have the choice of what writing paper to use. Some like to write their stories in small books, some in big books, some want it all on one paper with no pictures, and some want paper that has room for writing and pictures. I encourage them to try different paper types throughout the year.

    One last thing. I let my students pick their own topic 75% of the time. The other 25% I do class topics usually relating to something we are learning in class.

    Sorry this is so long winded. I LOVE writer's workshop! I hope this helps!
     
  4. teach12

    teach12 Companion

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    Jul 16, 2009

    Wow...thank you SO much RugRats for taking the time to share all that! It is VERY helpful!! A couple more questions...

    first, do you have like a folder for each student that they keep their work in or do you collect it each day?

    Also, when you teach a new mini-lesson, do they go back and finish previous writing that they may not be finished with yet, or start a new piece, and then go back and work on unfiished writing with extra time?

    And lastly (for now anyway!) can you give me kind of an example of the order you might teach your mini lessons?

    Thanks again so much. I appreciate it alot!
     
  5. teach12

    teach12 Companion

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    Jul 16, 2009

    oh one mre thing....do you do this daily?
     
  6. love_reading

    love_reading Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2009

    My students in the past used a two pocket folder...one side for writing in progress and the other for finished pieces. I let them take home the stories each quarter. This year I am going to have pages already hole punched and inserted into a 3 ring binder. They are going to choose one story to publish each month and that will go in their portfolio, then the other stories will go home.

    About your 2nd question, sometimes depending on what my minilesson is they will have something to complete for me, then they may write whatever they want. Usually though, they work on any story they wish keeping in mind our minilesson focus and try to implement it when necessary.

    I didn't read the OP, but Jmeacham.com has great, easy to follow mini lessons that would be good for you to use while you get the hang of writers workshop. After you get used to it you will wonder how you taught writing before! Also, once you get it implemented and start to look at your student's writing you will begin to base your minilessons on what your students need to work on. hth
     
  7. love_reading

    love_reading Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2009

    Most definitely!
     
  8. love_reading

    love_reading Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2009

    My writers workshop usually begins with a read aloud that will go along with my mini lesson. From there I teach a 10-15 minute mini lesson with ONE focus (that is important to stick to 1). I send them off to write independently. Once my procedures are well established and students know their expectations during indep. writing I will begin to meet with a small group for guided writing. After independent writing, we have Author's Chair. They love this! I choose one table each day to share. Children make comments and compliments and then we give a cheer to the reader (look under drjean.com for cheer cards). I love writers workshop and so do my students. Every year I have kids who love to write! Here is my schedule in outline form:
    Read Aloud -- 5 minutes
    Mini lesson -- 10 minutes
    Independent Writing -- 20 minutes
    Share time -- 10 minutes
     
  9. RugRats

    RugRats Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009

    No problem! Everyone shares wonderful ideas with me; it's only fair I pay it forward :).

    First, yes, my students have a writing folder. They don't always have the chance to publish their work, so they store it in their folder. Their current writing piece is on one side and other unpublished pieces are on the other. As they finish a piece they place it in their baggy on the writing wall for others to read, as well as myself.

    Second, when I teach a mini lesson it is something that can be applied to their current piece. If they are finished with that, or want to start fresh they can. Also, some of my students may not even use anything from my mini lesson until they finish their current piece and move on (Unless I insist the try to include information taught).

    Third, each year the order I teach my mini lessons and the type of mini lessons I do change. So here's a general outline.

    The beginning of the year is focused on the fundamentals: spacing, where to use capitals, writing complete sentences, punctuation, etc.

    I try and have a book for every single mini lesson. Several books I use for many mini lessons so that students see that authors do many different things in one story. For these mini lessons I do expect that they will include the learned information in their writing.

    As the year goes on, I teach mini lessons around six traits (ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, and conventions). For some of these mini lessons they can chose not to include it in their writing, or may not be ready for that next step.

    If I see that something I taught is not being picked up by anyone I revamp and reteach it going off the assumption they didn't quite get it or weren't ready for it when I initially taught it. Anamonapia is a good example of a mini lesson I sometimes teach more than once because the first time they just weren't ready for it.

    If you're not sure about what kind of mini lesson to teach, check out their writing. If they are all using the same sentence starters, boring words, all forget certain types of punctuation... There you go :). There's no right or wrong way to do it!!!!

    Finally, yes! We do Writing Workshop daily. I will say that some days there is not as much time allotted to it because of the crazy schedules we have to work with :).

    Good luck and ask away!
     
  10. RugRats

    RugRats Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009

    I love the cheer cards from drjean's website. I think it's drjean.org though.
     
  11. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Jul 17, 2009

    Also be sure to check out Mrs. Meacham's "stuff" on Writing Workshop. She has some great units and ideas for the workshop process etc. :)
     
  12. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Jul 17, 2009

    Wow! What a wonderful description of what you do!!!! You don't happen to have pictures of your writing corner do you? I would love to have one this year and really create more independence during writing workshop this year and that sounds like the road to take... :)


     
  13. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Jul 17, 2009

    Oops already been said. I guess it was worth repeating. lol
     
  14. teach12

    teach12 Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009

    OKay...this is great information...I feel like I can actually do this!! :) One last question for now....

    How often do you work with students on editing their writing, and taking more through the whoel writing process? Is this something you would do in your conferencing time with them? Just curious how you do this part of it!

    Oh, and like someone else mentioned, I too would LOVE to see a picture of your writing corner, if you happen to have one that is!

    Thanks again for taking the time to explain the way you do things so in depth!
     
  15. mjennings

    mjennings Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009

    RugRats is there anyway you can email what a days lesson would be like...for example: what is your goal, what do you teach, and expect to see them do in a writing once your taught it?
     
  16. RugRats

    RugRats Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009

    I'm in the middle of doing my classroom right now, as soon as I have my Writing Corner at least part way done I'll post a picture for you. :)

    mjennings, sure, I'll PM you a sample lesson tomorrow.
     
  17. RugRats

    RugRats Companion

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    Jul 17, 2009


    Generally I conference with each student once a week. This coming year I'll have an additional 10 students so it will probably be more like once every week and a half. I'll check their work, as they talk to me about what they're writing, for conventions but only spend a few minutes on it if I notice something.

    I do mini lessons on the writing process but do not focus on it. We are always talking about the writing process and when I meet with them we talk about where they think they are. I have it posted for them to refer to.

    In first grade I find that prewriting can be something as simple as deciding what to write about. I also think that the revising and editing stages are blurred together for them. Sometimes even the drafting and publishing stages blur. I chose to focus on the six traits instead.
     
  18. foxteach1

    foxteach1 Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2009

    Thanks for all the info, Rugrats! I love your approach! I also love writer's workshop, and would add a couple of approaches that have never failed for me.
    Super Sentences: Put a very simple sentence on the board, like The boy sat. Ask the kids if that's boring (of course) and what could be added to spice it up. The kids will begin throwing in adjectives and phrases without even knowing what they are, and we have ended up with sentences that filled half of the board by the time they were done! Then I put up a very simplified version of The Three Pigs on sentence strips and let the kids fill in all of the details to make the story more exciting. My classes loved the Super Sentence thing and it was an easy, quick way to start a lesson or fill in a few minutes here and there, and gave us all a reference point when editing.
    Second, they need to understand what makes up a story, so we do the 3P's chart. Make a big chart on your board with People, Place and Problem as the column labels with 12 spaces under each. Talk about what these are and why they're necessary for a real story. Ask kids to brainstorm items for each column. Remember that People can be animals, aliens, whatever! (One gifted 6th grade group I worked with used a crazed group of toilet bowl cleaner containers to write a great story!) Likewise fill in Places ("a galaxy far far away", a kitchen table, a mouse hole, Uzbekistan) and Problems (a broken nail, a nuclear bomb, a misunderstanding, a missed shot). Now roll a pair of dice three times, circling the corresponding space in each of the three columns on your chart. Put the answers together, and see if you can come up with a story as a class. Then let kids make their own charts, roll the dice, and get ideas for their own stories. Many of my kids didn't use what they rolled, but it didn't matter--they had so many great ideas by that time, they were ready to write!
    I also use the computer, especially with kids who are lagging in their spelling or handwriting skills. One boy with mild CP couldn't write legibly at all, but when he began telling me his story, it was so far beyond typical first grade level, I was shocked. Needless to say, he dictated it to me and ended up winning the school's Young Authors competition. He's in sixth grade now and planning to be a writer (he will be!)
    Have fun!
     
  19. 2gradeteacher

    2gradeteacher New Member

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    Sep 24, 2010

    I am now just starting to implement a writers workshop so I don't have a lot of advice to offer. I did, however, find a great site that talks about setting one up and several other elements of the writing process. It is "Teaching That Makes Sense" or TTMS for short.
     
  20. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Sep 25, 2010

    Read the book No More I'm Done. It's amazing!
     
  21. lily74

    lily74 New Member

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    Nov 10, 2010

    I have had used Writer's Workshop with older students and it worked very well. Now I am in 1st grade and have some students that don't even know how to form certain letters..or know how to spell even the simplest words (it/on). How do you deal with those students and have them work independently?
     

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