Monday, August 11, 2014

The Write Stuff: Getting Started with Writer’s Workshop

Hey y'all! I'm excited to bring you a GUEST POST from my friend and teacher Noelle from the Frizz! 

I'm here to tell you all about how I plan on launching my Writer's Workshop this year.

First Day of School
I give my students a blank piece of copy paper (I purposefully give them paper without lines in order to see who draws a picture and who gets right down to writing. Later, the paper will scaffold the writing!)  

I then explain to students that I will set a timer and they are to write for ten WHOLE minutes. (gasp!)

I do not give them a prompt or any ideas.  I simply ask them to write.  

I explain to them that I will be walking around the room taking notes and should not be disturbed.  

The guidelines for this activity are: 
-No talking
-No walking
-If you run out of room on your paper, raise your hand for a new piece
-You may not ask the teacher for help.  Just do your best!

While the students are writing their little hearts out or staring at the ceilingpicking their nose raising their hands to ask you what to write about or how to spell a word, drawing a picture, I have my clipboard in my hand and am walking around the room writing furiously.

This is my chance to take notes about what kind of writers I have this year!

I have my class list next to my notes page to easily help me remember which student goes with which number on my clipboard.  

This saves me time and energy when I am taking notes!  

I might write things like this:
1. hasn't written anything down after 8 minutes
2. drawing very detailed picture
3. uses complex sentences
4. tying his shoes for most of the time
5. needed 2nd piece of paper
6. struggled to get started 
7. drew lines for himself on paper

Basically, I am writing down anything and everything that will help me get to know my students as writers and help me further plan my writing mini-lessons.

As the weeks pass and we build our stamina in writing, I continue to use this clipboard to take notes.  

I also use another document to help me plan my lessons in the future. After our writing time, I will quickly jot down things I noticed students do or not do on the "Yesterday while you were writing I noticed" section.  

Okay.  That was just day one.  Are you still with me?  

Day 2: All About Me Bag Introduction
I read aloud Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge and share my Me Bag.  Be sure to read more about that here

Day 3: Who is a writer?  and What do writer's do?

During this lesson we talk (and make an anchor chart) about all the people who need to write (mom and dad, teachers, doctors, my older sister, and even 2nd graders!) and what writer's do (WRITE! draw pictures to help them write, brainstorm, read lots of books, jot down ideas, etc.)

After the mini lesson I will have a few students share their All About Me bag with the class. 

Day 4: What do writer's write? and Why do writer's write?
During this lesson we talk (and make an anchor chart) about all the things writers write (lists, notes, thank you cards, stories, emails, directions, etc.) and I read Read Anything Good Lately?  We also brainstorm all the reasons why writers write!  

Again, students will share their bags with the class.

Day 5 (is a BIG ONE!) First Day of Writer's Workshop:

This is where I launch my Writer's Workshop!  

With my coffee mug in hand, I pull out the folders, fresh pencils, crisp paper, and my fancy No Walk! No Talk! anchor chart. 

I explain to students that the time has finally come for us to have our first Writer's Workshop (insert blank stares here cheers and applause here!)

The class will brainstorm the behaviors and expectations as I make the anchor chart.  

I make sure the chart includes things like: 

-Get started quickly
-Stay in one spot
-Silent voice
-Do what writer's do: WRITE!

Then, I send students off to start writing. 

I follow the Daily Five routine of building stamina.  

If I noticed a student not following the directions above, I ring my bell for cleanup and everyone meets back on the carpet.  

We discuss as a class why we came back (by this point, my class has already mastered this routine through read to self!)  

We read over the anchor chart again, possibly adding new ideas that might help the class build stamina.  
 And I send them off again to write.

We continue this routine each day until the class can successfully write for 20 minutes.  

I call this time "No Walk! No Talk!"

To read more about No Walk! No Talk! click here.

WHEW!  That concludes my first week of Writer's Workshop!  After day five, you might need to celebrate with one of those cold adult beverages or a box of brownie mix....if you know what I mean!

What's next? Have no fear! That first day of Writer's Workshop will give you PLENTY of ideas for what to teach them next! It's so awesome- albeit also scary! You may find that you need a mini-lesson like Writer's Gum! Let the students writing guide you to the next (and the next and the next) mini-lesson! 

Now I will kick up my feet and enjoy the weekend!  

Want some of the forms I talked about? Need to see more details about No Walk/No Talk or Writing Rules? Want a form to keep track of your writing conferences? 

Click on the link to purchase our Launching Writer’s Workshop pack!


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