Saturday, January 18, 2014

Inspired with Writer's Workshop!

Happy Friday Saturday!  I hope your week ended well!  (I tried to write this post yesterday, but fell asleep on the couch while watching a movie with my dad.  Oops!)  Since it is the end of the quarter, students didn't have school yesterday.  Teachers had professional development in the morning, and time to work on grading in the afternoon.

For professional development, we had a group from the University of Minnesota Writing Project come in to teach us about Writer's Workshop and how to implement it in our classroom.  I found it super helpful!  I feel like teaching writing is not one of my strong suits, so I was feverishly taking notes!

After an introductory activity where we learned about the philosophy of writing from the National Council of Teachers of English, we broke into two groups: K-4th, and 5th-8th.  The teacher that presented for us went through the writing process what what to expect in each stage of writing.

For Writer's Workshop, teachers typically follow a basic framework:

1) Mini-lesson (5-10 minutes)
Teachers teach: procedures and organization, strategies and processes, and craft and technique

2) Independent Writing/ Conferencing with Students (30-45 minutes)
Students: write, write, write! Build stamina, and are at different stages in writing
Teachers: 2-4 minute conferences, points out strengths and weaknesses (and uses the information during sharing, small groups, and mini-lessons)

3) Closing/ Sharing (5-10 minutes)
Students and Teachers: modeling student examples, improve speaking skills, and address successes/misconceptions
(can be in the form of an author's chair, partner share, whole group, or individual reflection)



**Right now, I include some "Work on Writing"/ free write time with my Daily 5.  However, it is not as structured as Writer's Workshop, and I don't typically follow the writing process.  The writing process is where I am struggling as a teacher.

Here are some points about the Writing Process that stuck with me:

Drafting:
* Use graphic organizers
* 3rd-5th grade can use lists
*Illustrations! (Yes, even for the older grades!  Think: sketches on the side of notebooks)

Revising:
* Encourage students to NOT erase
* Ask: "Do you have all the information/ details you want?"
* Ask: "How can you make this writing even better?"
* To add a sentence or information, try using a small strip of paper with the new sentence on it, and glue it on the edge of the paper as a flap.
** Give the students the control!  They won't revise everything, maybe just a few parts, and that's OK!


Editing:
*Use checklists and rubrics
* It is NOT your job to edit your students' papers (although it's tempting… don't!)
*For punctuation and mechanics, use mentor texts and read a lot!
*Teach through the writer's lens, not the reader's lens.  (Think: Instead of saying, "Where do you want the reader to stop?" say, "Where do you want your thought to end?"
*Treat your students like a WRITER!


Conferencing:
* Be explicit, name a strength, and explain why it is important (Say, "I love the way you said Walgreens, instead of saying you went to the store, because it really tells the reader exactly where you were."
* If you can, have the student say the skill back to you.  (Say, "What are you going to work on now?")
* Focus on the WRITING (Not, "I see you used a capital letter.")



One AWESOME resource that was shared with us was Mrs. Meacham's Writer's Workshop.  It has great mini-lessons, and tons of printable resources for the writing process, writing traits, writing genres, and printable paper.  Seriously, go check it out!




Here are some of the other resources that were suggested at the workshop:

- Crafting Writers K-6 by Elizabeth Hale

- Writing Workshop the Essential Guide by Ralph Fletcher
(This one was suggested as a good starting point, if you're new to Writer's Workshop.  I will be ordering this one soon!)

- Units of Study for Primary Writing by Lucy Calkins
(Coming from a school without a writing curriculum, I may be suggesting this one to administration!)

When we discussed mentor texts, I instantly thought of this post and Jivey's Mentor Sentences.


Because my students are struggling so much with writing and getting their ideas down on paper, I am going to start with giving them time to free-write, and going through the writing process with those pieces, rather than focusing on specific pieces like narratives or letters.  

I am SO inspired to start a more structured Writer's Workshop on Tuesday!  Wahoo!

How do you tackle your writing time?  What is your favorite part about teaching writing?

Until next time,
- Miss Woodward


1 comment:

  1. Isn't Jessica Meacham's site the best? The sheer volume of ideas and resources is amazing! I spent one summer immersed in it! Sonja from TpT and and www.gradeonesnapshots.blogspot.com

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