Writer's Workshop…. those two words can make any first grade teacher cringe.
I don't know why, but the idea of writer's workshop just feels so daunting to me.
I've read the research and I know that it's best practice.
I've seen the HUGE benefits of using it in my own classroom.
And still, it feels like a lot.
That's why I'm here to share with you my best systems and tricks for easily and smoothly conducting Writer's Workshop in my own first grade classroom.
Writer's workshop doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming… in fact, it shouldn't be!
I've written about Writer's Workshop for First Grade in several different blog posts and I have outlined and linked them for you below!
I also linked my two favorite products to use during writer's workshop: Year Long Writing Templates and Writer's Workshop Conference Forms.
You've got this!
The Writing Process inside Writer's Workshop
I think as adult writers we often forget that the process of transferring ideas into writing is incredible hard for emerging writers. To make it easier, focus on their IDEAS, not their handwriting or conventions.
How do you do that? Simply and focus on the process…
The Four Steps of the Writing Process:
How to Prep for Writer's Workshop
Before school even starts, here are a few decisions you need to make about how you want to spend your writing time with your students. Your answers to these questions will help shape your entire Writer's Workshop structure.
- How long will your writing block be?
- How are you going to divide it up?
- Will you call groups back or will you walk around the room?
- How will students organize their writing?
- Where will students keep their writing?
- What are procedures for starting a new story?
- Where do they get new writing paper?
- When can students work on their writing? (writing time only, writing stations, free time, etc.)
- What kind of writing templates are you going to use?
- How do students need to “title” their writing (name, date, story title)?
- How will you organize your conference notes?
- How many times a week do you want to see each student?
- How will you track which students you have seen/need to see?
You can read how I address these issues during my own Writer's Workshop here:
Student Conferences during Writer's Workshop
Students need immediate and corrective feedback. And yes, there is a right and a wrong way to provide feedback.
I know it is way easier to simply say “no, that isn't right”, but what does a student really learn from that? Nothing.
Instead, provide feedback to the student that lets them know their answer is incorrect, but lead them to learning why that answer wasn't right. Try something like “Well, if we were asking a question we would use a question mark, but read this sentence to me. What type of punctuation do you need?”
Why is feedback so important? It takes 16 to 21 days to reverse a misconception.
When giving feedback to a student during a writing conference, I like to use the 2 to 1 method.
I have the student share their writing with me, then I point out two things I really liked during their writing (I usually try to find a skill we've recently had a mini-lesson on) and then I share ONE thing that I want them to try or keep in mind for next time.
Let's be honest, there are about ten things on every writing that are going to drive you insane.
But remember that your writers are only 6 or 7 years old. You can't expect them to retain ten lessons or skills in one day. Find one thing that you think will benefit them the most and work on that ONE thing.
You need to have a plan for:
- how to track conferences and organize your data
- a cheat sheet for advanced writers
- a cheat sheet for beginning writers