Friday, July 25, 2014

Writer's Workshop Part 1

Last year my principal decided that our school wide focus needed to be on writing.  This was partly because of Common Core, and the fact that our students had to answer critical response questions on a Social Studies and Science test, and they did horrible.  So we implemented Lucy Calkin's Writer's Workshop.  For grades 3-5, this meant we departmentalized so we could get the writing component in.  I was lucky enough to be chosen as the writing teacher :)

We had 5 different blocks, that lasted 55 minutes each.  It was tough at first because you really have to get on a good schedule.  I needed a 5-15 minute mini lesson, 35-40 minute writing period, and then 5 minutes of partner time and 5 to share at the end.  If you add all of that up, you can clearly see it exceeds 55 minutes! Some days I had the students share with their partner instead of having a few share to the entire that saved us some time.  But I was having difficulty with the mini lesson part!  I decided to implement a timer, and if I didn't get to a certain point, we would pick up where we left off the next day. At first it annoyed me like crazy because I hated having to quit in the middle of a lesson, but I quickly learned that our writing is evolving anyways, so it wasn't THAT big of deal.  Plus, if I noticed that a student was ready for that particular lesson during our conference, I would go ahead and share it with them and challenge them to work on it in their writing.

I have to admit, I was worried how my students would react to A) having a writing class, and B) writing in general.  They really hadn't been taught HOW to write in a couple of years, because of such a big focus on Reading and Math.  But they stepped up to the plate beautifully! I think it helped that they were able to pick their topics (for the most part) and they REALLY got into it! It will be interesting to see how the upcoming group does considering they have a year under their belt now.

Next time I'll post about our writer's notebooks and really helped organize their writing!


  1. I can't wait to hear about your writing folders. I teach 4th grade too, and writing is very difficult for my students. The hardest part for me is building students stamina at the beginning of the year. There isn't a big whiting emphasis in K-3, which makes it a big shock in 4th. (3rd is obviously adding in writing next year for common core.)

    Dirty Hands & Lesson Plans

  2. @Katie

    Building stamina is hard! At the beginning of the year, my mini-lessons are longer to go over expectations, and I model like crazy! I let them pick their own "writing spot" and that helps them focus. I could tell a difference though around October that they were writing more!