Writers Workshop Mini Lessons...HELP

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by born2teach84, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    I did writer's workshop last year and I have to say as a teacher it was the worst thing I did all year. I want to change that and make it better. I have read TONS of books about writer's workshop and the organization of it, but the mini lesson part is still confusing. What lessons do you start with? Where do you get the lessons? (my standard course of study is very slim when it comes to writing, it only really has conventions down and nothing else) For each genre how do you know what mini lessons work best? I have the 6 and 1 Traits book and LOVE it but I need something more organized when it comes to a year long plan. I should say I need something that goes either month by month or week by week. I would love to map out the year but I have NO idea where to begin!! HELP!!!!
     
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  3. Ms.T

    Ms.T Comrade

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    I like the 4 blocks books for mini-lessons for writing and Scholastic also has a couple of mini-lessons for writing books based on grades. The four blocks one is broken into beginning, middle, and end of year but I can't remember how the Scholastic is broken down.
    They are both very simple, with examples provided - I usually just copy them right out of the book. For example, if the book says, 'write this story on the board' and the story is about a dog, but my students know I don't have a dog, I just change it to cat.

    I like these books because you can go in order or not according to what you think your students need. Also, it sometimes takes a couple of days on the same mini-lesson, if it seems like they're struggling. Mini-lessons are very powerful because they are so short that the kids can really remember them and focus on one thing you feel is important. Then they go work on it right away in the workshop. Something I might do also this year, is when we do sharing/Author's Chair after the workshop: I might ask them how they used the skill we just learned about in our lesson.
    Here's how it would look:
    Mini-lesson - Capitals and periods
    Writing - whatever they want, but focusing on capitals/periods
    Author's Chair - First I ask them what their purpose for writing is and who their audience is. Then they read the story. Then they get to ask for 2 questions/comments from the other kids. Then I will ask "How did you use the information we just learned about capitals and periods?"
     
  4. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Jul 4, 2007

    some help

    I created a word document of all of my planned writing mini-lesson for the year. Not in any detail, but just a brief idea of when and how I will do it. Note: I don't do a mini-lesson every day. I do two a week, and let them just write and share on the other days. This is how I schedule it, although in the beginning of the year, we will do a mini-lesson on procedures every day.

    I don't know if this will work, but I saved it as a webpage.

    Here is the link:

    file:///Users/nommo77/Documents/Writer’s%20Workshop%20Lesson%20Plans.htm
     
  5. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    ok, that does not work.... I will email you a copy if you want. Post your email and I will send it.
     
  6. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2007

  7. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    opps, can you PM me?
     
  8. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 4, 2007

    How do you feel you didn't do well? What were your attempts?

    By the way, I'm working on a calendar now. I have read several books and am putting units together to make an interesting writer's plan... because if I don't have a framework now, I feel I will not follow through with what I wish to do in my mind.
     
  9. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    To be honest writing was not a focus since we have state testing in third grade and I was worried about reading and math. I did two narratives, poem and friendly letter. I didn't do alot of mini lessons and it wasn't organzied. There were many days we wouldn't get to writing partly because I hated teaching it. They did improve through the year but not because of my doing. I really just did alot of confrencing with them and talked one on one with them about what they needed to fix. Grading was also hard because I didn't know when to take a grade, or should I be grading through the whole peice. Should I grade each focus lesson or give them a time limit on a peice and take it up to grade. The 6 and 1 traits has some nice rubrics but those are for the focus lessons. Should I grade on those as well as the genre? No on at my grade level has really figured out writing. They seem to do their own thing and can't really explain to me how they are doing what they are doing. We don't have a school wide plan either. The hard part is in fourth grade they have to take the state writing exam which falls heavy on those fourth grade teachers. It stinks because they come to us so low and I don't know what I am doing so they go to fourth not ready. Bad cycle!
     
  10. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Okay, as I get closer to introducing my writing calendar- how long do you have each day to teach writing? Is there a specified period? Also, have you tried Writer's Workshop, where the kids write in a writing journal of their own? I have read a lot on this lately and see already where I am striving to improve.

    As a fourth grade teacher, I'll tell you our wishes of how they should come to fourth in a few moments.
     
  11. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    I used the four blocks Minilessons for First Grade and I LOVED it! It was my first experience with first grade and writing workshop and it went really well.
     
  12. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    We used writing notebooks where drafted our work and wrote notes from the mini lessons, as for journaling we didn't do any of that :( I know but I didn't know how to incorperate it. The days I put writing in my schedule I had about an hour. Which was nice but I felt some days I was floundering because I didnt know what to do with all the time. This year I will make sure I have at least 45 each day. Once I know what to do with that time. I used a type of writing workshop but it wasn't organized. I had them working on a peice while I confrenced. I taught mini lessons some days and others I didn't.

    We have had many workshops with fourth grade on their expectations, which is why I feel so bad. I know they went unprepared and I hope this year I can change that. I just want to know how it looks in a long term setting. All the books I read talk about one day or two days but then I get lost.
     
  13. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Here are my first five days, which are all management mini-lessons-

    Day 1-

    -Discuss the schedule for writer’s workshop.

    Take out the detailed chart that will be in the writing section of the classroom all year.

    Explain to the students that they will have their writer’s journals and binders for their published stories. They will decorate their writer’s journals with photos of themselves, family, animals, magazine cutouts, and other mementos. The journals will hold the writing that they will work on daily. Sometimes we will be taking breaks to work on skills lessons, assignments, and test preparation skills, yet they will be in these journals often, working on their original stories and expository pieces.

    Day 2

    -Materials- Basic writing materials and how to use them; using staplers, staple removers, and hole punches; decorative publishing papers

    What’s a Good Idea?
    Writing That Makes Sense- Posters, page 18 (ttms.org)
    -Something you have strong feelings about
    -Something you know a lot about
    -Something you can describe in great detail
    -Something your audience will be interested in
    -Something your audience will feel was worth reading

    Inspiration Bank-
    -Things you have seen that are interesting
    -Close observations of objects and people, capturing sights, sounds, moods, tastes, etc.
    -Memories from places you have visited (vacations) (for example- Disney World, New York City, camping in Georgia, mountains)
    -Writing generated from photographs
    -Experiences you have had with animals
    -Experiences you have had with family
    -Setting ideas and stories revolved around places we “visit” on our region tour and virtual “field trips”
    -Family stories that you know
    -Entries about things you deeply care about
    -Celebrations or victories
    -Dreams
    -What fascinates you
    -Fantasy
    -Imagine interviewing a person in history
    -Imaginary field trips
    -Things you regret, and things you are proud of.
    -Things that are easy and things that are hard.
    -Things you are good at and things you would like to improve at.
    -Things you are an expert in and things you would like to know more about.
    -The first time you ever did something and the last time you ever did something.
    -Things you do all the time and things you don’t do all that often
    Etc.

    Writer’s Workshop-
    Create a piece of writing that shows the kind of writer you are. You may write on any topic, in any form, genre, or mode, (except poetry, song, or drama). Pick something to write about that you will be able to write about well, something that will inspire you to produce your very best work.

    Day 3

    Model how students begin writing in their journals.
    -Go to the Inspiration Bank.
    -After going over the guidelines:

    -Something you have strong feelings about
    -Something you know a lot about
    -Something you can describe in great detail
    -Something your audience will be interested in
    -Something your audience will feel was worth reading

    … Check off the inspiration you decided to spark your entry about.
    -Date your journal and write for the period I set aside for you.

    Day 4

    Three-Minute Explanation:

    What do I do when I finish an entry in my Writer’s Notebook? (I got this from Mrs. Newingham- she has a poster on her page- she's easy to find in Google.)

    SKILL:
    MINI LESSON: (15 minutes) ELABORATION

    -“Show, Don’t Tell”- Razzle Dazzle Writing, pages 18-19; Show, don’t tell means to describe something for your readers instead of telling them something too obvious. Students in the mini-lesson today will develop details that can strengthen the statement, “The iguana got away.”
    -Introduce the “sensory details diagram”.

    Writer’s Workshop Assignment today-

    -Sensory Details Diagram (Scholastic’s 40 Elaboration Activities That Take Writing from Bland to Brilliant!, page 54)
    -Students will write about a topic, though they will be elaborating. Ideas will be written on the board; however, the students’ entries will not be limited to these ideas.

    The remainder of the period can be spent collecting entries in journals.

    Day 5

    -When you need a conference: Move your photo with the Velcro on the back to where it belongs on the chart.

    -I Need a Conference
    -Collecting Entries
    -In the Publishing Stage

    -I prefer meeting with 2 people at once, though you may work in a group up to 4 people to encourage one another.

    -Explain what the purpose of conferencing is.

    Conferencing is:
    -Listening to you reading your entries aloud
    -Helping you in developing your “voice”
    -Re-teaching of or additional mini-lesson skills
    -Writing test skills (go over important FCAT multiple choice skill to focus on in group)
    -Telling you your strengths and areas to work with, POSITIVE and constructive
    -Sparking your interest in trying something new
    -Questioning
    -Having you and fellow teammates feel you are excellent, capable writers
     
  14. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2007

    That looks great, now how to know when to take a grade? What do you grade?
     
  15. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    That looks fantastic! In first grade we have to start off very basic.... the first day is how we can write in first grade.... drawing pictures, using words, then we go on to how to write a good sentence.... The end of the year is so fun because they are writing really creative stories! I love writing and it's so great to see how they progress so much in a year!

    I like how you let them decorate their journals. I used folders last year. Maybe we'll do notebooks. But I like using story paper, especially at the beginning. So notebooks may not work for the little guys... hmmm..
     
  16. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    I struggled a lot with grading last year...

    At first I graded something every week. Every Friday the kids would write then use a rubric to assess themselves to make sure they have good sentences, a picture that matches the sentence, etc. But then a little while later the kids really started writing at their own pace, most kids wouldn't finish in one day. So then I ended up pulling three writing samples at the end of each quarter and grading them on a different rubric (for writing process and conventions). I graded applications when we did something like poetry, nonfiction report, letter writing, etc. I'm still trying to figure out what works for me for grades...
     
  17. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    I am starting to create rubrics for the writing pieces our SCOS forces us to teach. Other then those pieces what pieces do I grade? We write a poem, friendly letter, instructions and directions, personal and imaginative narrative, and a report of some sort. Do I grade their journals?

    When do I let them use their journals? What do they write in their journals? Should they always be working on one of those pieces that the SCOS states? AHHHH I am so overwhelmed with teaching writing......
     
  18. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Born2teach,

    Since I sent you the email, I thought I would share the structure of my writing period.

    I begin the mini-lesson and they last no more than 10 min. though sometimes when a great discussion is going on, it may run a little longer. We have at least 30 minutes every day to journal write. This is writing of their choice. I conference with them, and we go through the editing process. They publish their books, which we make covers for and they go in the library. (I have no idea how you would grade this- I don't give grades at my school)

    I also have assigned projects where we study a genre, research reports, responses to literature, sometimes a writing unit, such as memoir, or imaginitve fiction. Those are things you could easily grade. If you have an hour a day for writing, spend the first 30 minutes on a mini-lesson and journal writing. This is writing for their own enjoyment. They will be pleased as punch when their first book is written, illustrated and published.

    If you need to prepare for a test, why not use that other block of time for units of study, memior, poetry, expository, etc. Still do a mini-lesson, but have a more concrete writing assignment with a rubric and grades and all.

    I don't know how that would work exactly, since I don't give grades, just narrative evaluations.
     
  19. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    I am going to grade handouts (which I'll still have some), two entries they "publish" in their binders a month, if they have components present in prompts, and Daily Language Practice (DLP). I'll have tests every once in a while on Focus, Organization, Support, and Details to see if they remember what I instructed in mini-lessons- as well as check for some of those components in their journal entries.
     
  20. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    This may be different for 2nd grade, but we are encouraged NOT to grade their journals. My writer's workshop works very similarly. We cover something like punctuation or word choice very briefly (5 minutes max.), and then I let them loose to write. They write about whatever they want. I NEVER expect them to finish in one day. Once they finish a story, they can choose to publish it, or to leave it as is. It's very discouraging for students to see how many mistakes they made when all we really want is for them to develop a love of writing! I have them publish one of their works at least once a month. They will proofread, edit, elaborate, and then type it or rewrite it. In 2nd grade, though, our focus is on the ideas... Just getting them to love writing!
     
  21. camcdade

    camcdade Comrade

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  22. mhirsch

    mhirsch Companion

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    Jul 4, 2007

    Lucy Caulkins has a year long plan but it's expensive.

    No book is going to give you the mini-lessons you need specifically for your students. I chose my first couple of mini-lessons, modeling how I write and then the rest are determined by students....

    If sequencing is a problem then we have a mini-lesson on sequencing. If conventions are a problem then conventions. Don't pull mini-lessons out of thin air, assess your students and that will determine what you teach.

    This site has the literature I mentioned: http://www.readersworkshop.org
     
  23. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2007

    I see now about the mini lessons. That makes sense that they will guide me with their writing on what needs to be taught. I still don't know what grades to take. I guess it will be trial and error this year with what to take grades on. Thank you for all your help!! I would be glad for anymore ideas!!!
     
  24. mhirsch

    mhirsch Companion

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    I teach 2nd grade myself. I don't grade any of their writing except for the one they publish and then I only grade the final draft. I also only grade it based on what I've taught e.g. if I've taught capitalization then everything should be capital in the published draft. If I haven't taught quotation marks then I need to let that one go.
     
  25. born2teach84

    born2teach84 Comrade

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    So when you put a writing grade on the report card do you base that grade off of the writing pieces and nothing else? We are a trimester school so that means I give a report card every twelve weeks and in those twelve weeks we usually have two main pieces we work on the SCOS requires. Does that mean those are the only two grades I take? I found some couldnt finish those two at times. I feel like two things isn't enough for a report card grade.
     
  26. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    I would always keep a running record. Walk around, watch, make notes of what skills they have/have not mastered. I would always focus on quality, not quantity. As long as you have your notes, with dates, you have concrete proof to back up your grades.
     
  27. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    We have three writing sections: conventions, process, and applications, and then those three average to one grade for writing. I usually have a bunch of grades for applications, I use spelling tests and other grammar activities for conventions, and then I grade three writing samples for conventions and process.

    Then I also have notes when I confer with students, so if I ever had a parent question that, they can just look at my notes, and I could show them the writing samples I keep in their portfolios.
     
  28. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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  29. Touchthefuture

    Touchthefuture Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2007

    littleschool,
    Can you email me you word document? I was just getting started with this and this will help me tremendously. Appreciate it!
    touchthefuture
     
  30. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Jul 4, 2007

    I really struggled with the same thing when I first started using writer's workshop. I have found that it really is best to create your mini lessons around what the kids need. This is found when you conference and find areas that need to be addressed. At the beginning of units, I look at the goals and objectives, and know where I'm going and usually map out the basic sequence of the lessons, knowing that I might not get to them in a day after day manner. However, if I have been conferencing and feel that I need to stop and address either a management thing or something I have noticed in the kids writing, I feel free to do so. I think the best part of writer's workshop is really teaching what YOUR particular kids this particular year need in order to grow as writers. THere are so many resources that you can look at and use as resources, but I really think the best thing you can do is to really look at your kids and who they are as writers and where you want them to go as writer's this year.
     
  31. 2tired2teach

    2tired2teach Companion

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    Jul 6, 2007

    writer workshop

    [COLOR="Navy"]Try out this website. this teacher seems to have it together and I am still printing things she provides for other teachers. She does Writing workshop. http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/[/COLOR]
     

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