Making your classroom an inviting place for writers can be a tricky thing to do. If your kiddos have never experienced Writer’s Workshop before, it can seem incredibly daunting to set it up in your classroom, but I promise, it’s worth it! Writer’s Workshop doesn’t assign kids writing, it turns kids into WRITERS! I have been teaching writing through a workshop approach for 4 years now, and here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way!
Before you can even dive into your writing lessons, you have to set up an environment conducive to writers!
The last thing I want to get in the way of my students being able to write is supplies, so I solve that problem right away when I’m setting up my classroom! I do flexible seating in my room, so it may look a little different than if you have desks, but you can take what I do and make it your own! I have caddies throughout the room filled with our writing supplies. These supplies are:
-Flair pens and Ink Joy pens
-a mini stapler
-Hand pencil sharpener
-Sticky notes and sticky flags
I also have a huge shelf full of extra of each of these that the students know they can access at ANY time.
Students have their own writer’s notebook (a composition book) that is ONLY used for writing. We use the sticky flags to mark our places when we are in the middle of a story. Students are allowed to write with any writing utensil that is comfortable for them and easy to read (this seriously is a motivator!)
Make sure you set up a meeting place for your mini lessons. Don’t have your students sit in desks for the mini lesson. Try and create an area where they can sit with their notebook, close to classmates and close to you. Make sure it’s an area where you can work on an anchor chart while you give your mini lesson. I love this community feel for writing and it helps me keep our mini lessons short and to the point!
I love that our meeting space allows students to turn and talk easily, and gets them out of their seats!
Good writers learn from the best! If you are teaching a mini lesson on using dialogue in your writing, find a picture book that is a stellar example of dialogue. BONUS, you are integrating this into reading comprehension now and you can double dip with your mini lessons!
I am always sharing picture books with teaching ideas on my Instagram page, so if you don’t, follow me there for great writing mentor texts! (@wildthingslearn).
Get ready to write yourself. But seriously. You have to model real writing of your own to get your students enthusiastic about writing and help them understand. Mem Fox so perfectly said, “If we are so foolish as to dare to teach writing without ever writing ourselves, we are treading with arrogance on shaky ground.” I couldn’t love this more! Get your own writer’s notebook and get ready to write during your mini lesson and with your kids. I usually do a model lesson on anchor chart paper, but I pre-write it in my notebook so my students see me writing! Also, don’t take up too much time on your mini lesson. Set a timer, stick to it. My writing mini lessons are 8-12 minutes. You need to leave ample time for your students to write, so you can confer with small groups, and then there is still time for share time with their peers. My writer’s workshop block is structured like this:
8-12 minute MINI LESSON (teach, model)
25-30 minute WRITE (confer with small groups)
5-8 minute SHARE (students share with their writing partner)
Setting up Writer’s Workshop is time consuming, and it is all about practicing those routines the first few weeks, but it is worth it! Your students will view their notebooks with reverence, and look forward to their writing time!
If you want to see more easy to manage and easy to implement tips and tricks for setting up Writer’s Workshop, check out these detailed posts below. 🙂