Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Writers' Workshop

Last year I received training on Lucy Calkins' Writers Workshop.  At first, I have to admit, I had no interest in it.  I loved my theme writing, my craft/writing activities, I loved it all... there is no way I was going to let the kids write about whatever they wanted.  I mean, when would we write our "How to Catch a Leprechaun" Books?

Well, it only took me a couple of units to get over it.  I have to admit, getting started on Writers' Workshop was a little intimidating and I am not sure if I do it completely right, but it works for me.  In case you are thinking about trying it, I strongly encourage you to!  It is actually a whole lot less prep than what I use to do... an that's never a bad thing!

I start every writers' workshop with a mini lesson from the unit.  I have spent the year planning units all at once... I create a learning target for each mini lesson and put it in a presentations.  Next year, it will be done and ready to go :)  My goal though for next year is to add more mentor texts... so any contributions to that would be greatly appreciated!  After I do the mini lesson and focus them in on my learning target, I let them write.  

I turn on classical music for writing time.  This keeps them quiet and working hard.  As they work, I walk around and try to meet with as many students as I can.  I like to see them once every two days.  I carry around a pack of post-its with me so I can jot down their goals and what I like about their work.  If I see something I LOVE, I stop the class for an inspiration break and we listen to that students' writing.  Sometimes we do gallery walks too.  This is where they put their favorite page on top of their desk and then they all walk around, complimenting each other.  They love it!

Towards the end of our writing time, I start packing them up.  I choose about 3 students each day to share.  If the kids are really into their writing, I partner them up so they can all share their writing with someone.  

I don't let the students keep their writing folders in their desk.  I keep them in a bin and pass them out during writing.  This may just be a control thing for me!  One thing I don't think I do correctly is the timeline.  My students work on one book for the entire unit... then we all publish at the end.  This has worked for me and I don't see it inhibiting their writing, but it may be something you have to try.

Here are a couple of screen shots of our recent Letter Writing Unit.  This is my best unit so far... I have mentor texts, goals, and examples.  

Happy Writing!

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