Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Writing Partners

Writer's Workshop consists of a Mini-Lesson, time for kids to WRITE (the best part of it all) and a chance for writers to come back together and share.  I'll be honest, sharing was the hardest part for me to fit in!  (see last post about the Writing Brag Board) I'd look at the clock, realize we were late, and tell everyone to hurry up and get cleaned up and lined up for lunch! I also realized that there was only one of me to go around and kids were valuable resources for other kids. It hit me one day when while having a conference with a student I heard another group of kids having their own conference with one another. I decided to capitalize on that! 

And voila-  the idea for WRITING PARTNERS!

Writing partners begins as a very simple concept and over the course of the year, grows to be so much more! This picture below is of course pre-pinterest, when things did not have to be cute and covered in scrapbook paper. It is simply chart paper- although I did use two different colored markers- and I have partnered up LIKE ABILITY writers.  That is now their writing partner and probably will be for the duration of the year unless abilities shift around dramatically. 

So what do these partners do together? In the beginning, they meet during Writer's Workshop to share their writing with each other. You know the kids that finish early every day? Now they have something else productive (and focused on writing) to do. They walk with their writing partner to a spot in the room and sit next to each other to show off their work/writing. It's as simple as that... to start. Teach the procedures of where you can sit. How loud you can be when you share with each other and any other management items you'll feel necessary, and let the partnerships begin. 
What I found is that the more I teach writing (which is every day in a mini-lesson) the more my students internalize the teaching and begin to use the words/lessons with each other in meetings with their Writing Partners. Some students begin to have peer conferences naturally with each other, but once working with partners has been established, I teach them how to do deeper work with one another. 

Possible Mini-Lessons:
Writing Partners can check each other's work with Word Wall Words
Writing Partners can help their partner add details to the pictures.
Writing Partners can think of questions to ask after hearing their partners story.
Writing Partners can help the writer think of more things to draw/write. 

A few mini-lessons to explain the process and steps of working together in beneficial ways is all it takes.  I have shared this with teachers across the country, and I am hopeful it is happening in many classrooms.  Here however, is a note from a teacher "In the Trenches". She started her writing partners this week!  This email from her is what urged me to put Writing Partners on my list of things to blog about. 

"I decided this week to introduce writing partners. They LOVED it and so did I! They talked about writing, wrote, talked some more, wrote, and shared ideas! They really enjoyed themselves. Although I'm pretty sure one student felt uncomfortable to whisper to someone during writing time. He kept looking over his shoulder nervously at me like he was about to get in trouble. Thanks for the idea."

So what are you waiting for, get your markers, make your chart, and get Writing Partners started in your classroom too! 



  1. I love the idea of teaching students how to have a conference with their peers. I can see this being a powerful tool in the writing process! I will be adding those mini lessons into the lesson plan book for January.

    I'm wondering what the structure of Writer's Workshop looks like with partners.

    When I introduced it, I had them sit next to their partner so they would be close enough to whisper when they needed to. (My students are allowed to write anywhere around the room)

    Would you provide a "No Walk. No Talk." time and then open it up for Partner time?

    I am curious what it would look like in your classroom!

    More details please.

  2. Yes... I have had kids sit for the mini-lesson with their writing partners too. Then I could say, turn and talk with your writing partner about....

    You are a BRAVE woman letting your kids sit anywhere in the room for Workshop. Not me- no way! :) So my kids had to get up and get with their partner. I like the "No walk. No talk" time. I called it the quiet 10. Our writing time was 20 minutes (K-2 and 30 minutes in 3-5) so I had the first half kids working independently. I like your name better though.

  3. Hi Melissa! I'm visiting from your online class for Region 12 :) Where can I find more mini lesson ideas for younger students. I hope to teach K-2nd grade and it seems the younger children will need to have more guidance in the beginning. How do you teach to the youngest and most inexperienced writers? Thanks! ~Kat S.

    1. Hi Katherine! I have a LOT of posts for Writer's Workshop- I would certainly check out this one next...
      It has an example of a mini-lesson and I share a few of my favorite books!


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