Monday, 13 June 2016

The Wonders of Writer's Workshop

When I first found out that I would be teaching Grade One, to say I was excited is an understatement. I was-jumping up and down, grinning ear to ear-excited. I started planning fun and engaging units, theme days and projects. I couldn't wait to get to know my students and work with such a creative and energetic age group. And then I started to talk to other teachers who taught other grades and heard comments about independence, tying shoes and teaching them the foundation for reading AND writing. This is when I began to feel the pressure of teaching the building blocks for the rest of my students education. Pressure's ON Miss W!

Luckily, during my first few months of teaching, our school's Learning Coach suggested I try teaching a Writer's Workshop with my firsties. This is where it all began! She provided me with the entire program for Grade One (which can be found for free here). This is the program that I followed when I launched the program on my own for the first time last fall. 

I can't BELIEVE the progress my students have made this year. They continually write longer, more detailed and creative pieces. At the beginning of the year their "writing" consisted of drawing and labelling pictures.  Now, they are working through a "How-To" writing unit. 

I now use this program for Writer's Workshop and LOVE it! I purchased it after Spring Break and started my students with the "How-Two" unit.

This package includes detailed lesson plans, colourful anchor charts, different writing paper, management ideas, organization plans and more! I had to write about it to rave. 

 Click any of the pictures above to check out Deanna Jump's Writer's Workshop program!

Here is a snapshot of what a Writer's Workshop lesson looks like in my class.

  • I gather my students on the "Author's Carpet."
  • I start all of my introductions briefly reviewing what my "authors" have been working on in Writer's Workshop. In this case, it was how-to writing.
  • After, I start my mini-lesson, which only lasts about 10 minutes. This mini-lesson was on writing a powerful title for our how-to's. During many of my mini-lessons, I model exactly what I would like my students to work on. 
  • At the end of my mini-lesson, I give my authors think time to brainstorm what they are going to write about that day. My authors put a thumbs up against their heart when they have an idea. I take time to listen to each of their ideas before sending them to write. 
  • Now - the fun part! Watching my students writing unfold...
  • During my authors writing time, I conference one-on-one with students. This is a good time to give them specific things to work on and things to keep doing that are great! 

  • My students have been building their writing stamina since November and I am SO proud to say they can quietly write for about THIRTY minutes! It's amazing. 
  • At the end of their writing time, I bring them back to the Author's Carpet. I tell them a few things that I noticed and loved and I tell them a few things to work on for next time.
  • NOW - share time!! I call different authors to the Author's Chair to share their writing. If they are not confident enough to read to the class, I read their writing for them. 

  • After a few students share in the Author's Chair I let all of my students turn to a neighbour and share their writing.

I can't rave enough about this program! It has truly allowed each of my students to work at the level that best suits them. My students are confident authors and engaged listeners as they share their writing. Writer's Workshop is m-m-m-m-marvelous!


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