Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Writing Workshop Update

Hi everyone!  I hope you had a super weekend!  I went to visit a friend out of town and did some blogging {obviously!}.  I wanted to stop by with a Writing Workshop update.  We've been immersed in the workshop for about 5 weeks now and it's going wonderfully well!  The workshop is like a fine wine...it just keeps getting better with time!  You may have seen my first post about writing this year. I posted it about a month ago.  You can catch it by clicking HERE.  Now that we've got the basics down, we are pushing the envelope and really challenging ourselves.  Below are a few things we've been working on.  Maybe you will find a few tips to take back to your own classroom!

1.  4 W's--In an attempt to get my kids to write longer stories with more detail, I introduced the 4 W's.  With explicit modeling and repeated practice, about 95% of my students are able to include the 4 in their stories AND check them off/tell me what they are when prompted.  One teaching strategy I implemented was to display a story whole group and give the kids their own copies.  We looked for the 4 W's together and color coded them.  I also include the 4W check boxes on the top of my writing paper each day during mini-lesson.  As time went on and students got more independent with the 4 W's, I gave them their own {gasp} check boxes!  Each day after they "finish" a story, they can bring it to me and I will staple a check box sheet to it.  Then, they must go back to their seats and verify that they do indeed have the 4 W's.  The novelty of a check box...  Works like a charm!   

This poster is included in my "Writing Workshop Resources" pack, which is LOADED with goodies for the workshop!
The check box papers are included in my Writing Resources pack, too!
2.  Conferencing--I don't like to jump right into conferencing the first few weeks of workshop because I want my kids to have time to get the routine of writing down.  It allows for me to manage behavior, as well.  After a few weeks of getting into the groove, I will begin conferencing.  I use a daily conference schedule that is included in my Writing Workshop Resources pack.  I just place it into a sleeve and use a vis-a-vis marker to fill in the kids I am conferencing with.  At this point in the year, it's just simply 5 kids a day.  As time goes on, it will be skill-based.  Having this schedule ensures that I am meeting with every child at least once a week.

3.  Sharing--I keep an ongoing checklist for sharing.  If students finish a piece, they place it in my basket.  I choose from those "finished" pieces for sharing each day.  To keep it fair {and so I don't have to hear "I never get to share,"  I make a check mark next to who is sharing each day.

4.  Storing Writing--As I said, the kids place finished pieces into my basket on my desk.  I take them home every night and look them over.  I then file them in a file box {shown below}.  I have a folder for each student.  I also check mark each time a student turns in a finished piece.  This lets me know how many pieces they are completing aka how hard they are working in class.  This checklist serves as a great conference tool with some of my friends...they are quick to admit that they have been playing around or not working during writing time.  For conferences or parent meetings, I am prepared with student work.  I send home their finished stories quarterly.

5.  Word Books--These are a nice little tool to have on hand during writing time.  Each child gets one.  We began by adding family/friendship words and classmates' names to our books together.  We add words to our book as a class each month {mostly holiday words}.  During conferencing, if a student wants to know how to spell a specific family member's name, I'll spell it for them so they can add it to their book.

I hope you found this post helpful.  If you'd like to see any of my Writing Workshop units, you can click below.  The photo will take you to my store.  Each unit is available for individual purchase. They are also bundled to save you money.  To see more Writing Workshop blog posts, click HERE.



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