Thursday, October 1, 2015

Writer's Workshop

Okay... So I've never done a "Writer's Workshop" before.

I know. I know. I'm probably a day late and a dollar short but I'm giving it a try this year. I'm definitely easing in. We are starting slow but I know it will be worth it.

Over the summer I found this amazing book... No More, "I'm Done!" by Jennifer Jacobson.

Seriously, read it.

I brought this book to our first planning session. I felt a bit nervous because well... When you work with 4 other amazing teachers and you have a new idea... It's kinda intimidating. But they totally loved what I was saying and they all bought this book too!

Jennifer Jacobson outlines the school year with ideas and mini lessons month by month. Don't misunderstand, your whole year will not be planned but this book provides a great outline! A perfect starting point if you are new to Writer's Workshop, like us.

This book also explains the different components, why they are important, and how to best use them in the classroom.

Our workshop begins with a mini lesson. Sharing mentor texts is so important. Young writers need to see and hear good writing. Modeling writing is key. Now, these two things are not new. We all do this but it's nice to read the research behind why.

After the lesson we all check in. I ask the writers to share what they are writing about. It goes a little something like this....

Me: "Writers, what will you be writing about today?"
-Some students will raise hands.... Others will blank stare at me.-
Student A: "I'm going to write about visiting the cider mill."
Me: "Wonderful, you and anyone else writing about a fall activity may go get out your notebook and find a quiet place to write."

This continues until my "lone wolf" is left. I'm sure you all have a lone wolf, the one kid who never knows what to write about. Well... This book addresses that!

Finally, it's time for independent writing. I started with what she calls, "Quiet 10." During this time students need to be thinking, planning, sketching, brainstorming, and/or writing.

We play quiet classical/instrumental music, the lights are off and the lamps are on. Everyone has to be quiet. This is the time we need to get the juices flowing... Which can be the hardest part!

At first, I had a few kids who would come up to me and say, "I'm Done." I know, you have them too!! Drives me crazy.  Thank goodness for the book!!!

After 10 minutes the timer goes off but we continue writing! Yes. You read that right... We write for more that 10 minutes and now no one says, "I'm done." Right now we do 7 more minutes, our goal is 10!

I have a student go around an stamp the date on each persons page. This helps me see that everyone is using their time appropriately.

Next, We meet back at the rug for Author's Chair. Don't skip this part! It's so important. 3 authors is the max. After that, we get too squirrelly.

Now, I know what you're thinking... When are you conferencing? I haven't started yet, I know... Bad. But I want everyone writing. So my plan is to add the student-teacher conferences in next week. I told you in the beginning, baby steps.

I'm pretty pumped about writing this year and my students are too.

If you are looking for some new mini lessons... Stay tuned!


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