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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

My 5 Easy Steps To A Smooth Writers Workshop Block

Writing is an important skill that our students need to learn, and should be a part of our daily schedule each week. It is amazing to see the improvement of our students’ writing when we are including it as part of our daily schedule. You can have your students write daily with just a few simple steps and systems. 

     One of the most important parts of Writers Workshop is the mini-lesson. I like to use concepts that I see my students having a hard time with and then incorporate that into a mini-lesson. The mini-lesson can be a grammar skill you see a lot of your students struggling with, or it can be a writing skill like word choice or sentence types that your students have trouble with. The mini-lesson should not be more than 10 - 15 minutes. We don’t want to have our students sitting there for a long time, instead, we want to get them to their writing. 


     The next step in running an excellent Writers Workshop block is mentor texts. Bringing in books that focus on different skills as writers is a great way to help students understand what they should add to their own writing. I like to start each new unit with a couple books that fall in that genre of writing. There are so many great books out there that go along with each of the different genres of writing that we teach. I usually display the books on the smart board so all my students can see the pages as we are reading. This also makes for a great way to discuss the books and ideas to add to their writing because all of the students can see the pages. 

     I use lots of graphic organizers during our Writers Workshop block. Graphic organizers are great because you can reuse the same organizers for the whole writing unit. This allows your students to get used to the organizers that are being used. This also makes it so I can reuse the organizers year after year. Just make the tweaks you need to make for each new year. Graphic organizers make my life so much easier and after the first few weeks of school, the students know exactly what to do with each organizer and how to use them. When my students need to add more pages to their writing they just go and grab the organizer that they need. Some students will only use one or two organizers, and some will use a lot more. Using graphic organizers makes it easy for my students to transfer their work to regular paper. As they finish their writing, they meet with me for a conference to go over it and make sure they are ready for the next step.  I love the functionality of graphic organizers, and my students love them too!

    The next part of a smooth Writers Workshop block is publishing. Once the students are done with their writing and they have met with me to go over it, they are ready to publish. The publishing process can be done in a couple of different ways. Some teachers really like their students to hand write everything out on paper. Other teachers like to make everything digital. I like to do a hybrid of the two. After the conference with me, my students get a publishing paper and write their piece on the paper. Just like the graphic organizers, I always have plenty of extras out for my students so they can just grab what they need on their own. Once they have written out their published piece on paper, they then type it on the computer. I have them use Google Docs to do this. I create an assignment in Google classroom and then they are able to type their piece. I like to have them type it also because they need the practice with typing for state testing. The more opportunities we can give them to type, the better. Also, when they type their work, all of their published pieces are organized and in their Google Drive and this makes it easy to add work to their digital portfolios. 

     The last part of running a smooth Writers Workshop block is the organization. I like to keep these paper trays from Lakeshore Learning around the room. I have a spot in the classroom for all our writing materials. I l keep our graphic organizers, rough draft paper, and publishing paper in the boxes. Once the students learn how to use the different papers and where to find them, it makes our writing time run so smoothly. Students just get up, grab what they need, and then return to their seats. Having the supplies organized is so important. I love being able to help my students become independent learners. 

     With just a few simple steps you can have your students writing every day. Your Writers Workshop will be so organized that you can run your sessions in a snap. Your students will become better writers and be begging for writing time. What step in the Writers Workshop block are you most excited to try in your classroom? Tell me in the comments! 


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