This is the process of students choosing their own topics and then writing, revising, editing, and publishing. It should begin with a mini-lesson during which the teacher models writing. Then, the students write. You then conference with them and coach them on how to revise, edit, and publish. Concludes with an Author’s Chair, in which students read their writing and get responses from the other “writers” in the room.
Limit the amount of time your students write for the first few weeks of school. Eventually, you want them writing for 15-20 minutes, but it is better to start with smaller amount of time, perhaps 6-7 minutes.
The goal is that you want the students to look forward to the writing time and you want them to see writing as a way of telling about themselves and the things that are important to them.
- Begin with an 8-10 minute mini-lesson
- Model for students what you do about spelling
- Sound it out
- Use the word wall or other resources around the room
- Do not spell the words for the students
- Circulate and encourage the writers
This is something that the teacher and students can come up with together during one of the mini-lessons. These should be things that students will look for during the editing process. An example of this is:
- Do all the sentences make sense?
- Do all the sentences have ending puntuation?
- Do all the sentences start with a capital letter?
- Are the words I need to check for spelling circled?
- Do names and places start with a capital letter?
- Do all my sentences stay on topic?
This check list can be introduced one item at a time and then worked on during the mini-lesson for that day.
Once students have had a lot of experience editing the teacher’s piece each day, they can learn how to edit with a partner. The teacher will model this by choosing a student to edit their writing, the teacher will choose a different student every day until all students seem to understand the process.
Student’s can share anything they have written since their last day in the Author’s Chair. Of course, when a student publishes a piece, they read that. The focus is exclusively on the message that the author is trying to convey.
Students choose a piece to publish when they have written 3-4 good pieces. All students will be at different stages, so they will not all be publishing at the same time. Some will be working on writing first drafts, picking drafts to publish, editing with a friend, having a conference with the teacher, fixing a piece after a conference and will be copying, typing, and illustrating the final product.
- Pick one piece that you want to publish
- Choose a friend and peer edit your piece for the items on the checklist
- Sign up for a writing conference
- Work with the teacher in a conference to edit your piece and fix spelling
- Copy or type your piece, making all the corrections
- Illustrate your piece
The Writing Conference
Be sure that each child edits his or her piece with a friend before signing up for a writing conference with the teacher. The teacher’s goal in publishing is to have students experience the pride of being authors ad having others read and enjoy their writing.
Fix the spellings of words, add punctuation and capitalization, clarify sentences that do not make sense, delete sentences that are totally off the topic, and do whatever else is necessary to help the student produce a masterpiece of writing.
Giving Additional Support to Struggling Writers
Once you begin publishing, you need to include everyone in the process. The goal is for everyone to feel like a real writer because he or she has some published pieces.
Help them choose pieces they want to publish and them give them the option of reading or telling what they want to say. Help them construct their pieces. As they tell, write down their sentences or have them use text to talk. Read the sentences with them several times to make sure they know what they say. Cut the sentences apart and have the student illustrate each one and put them all together into a book. You do not give this support to all students, if you feel like you need to, then you should go back to a mini-lesson.
Adding Revising to Writer’s Workshop
Editing is fixing mistakes and making the writing easy for the reader to read. Revising is makeing the writing better, clearer, more interesting, more dramatic, more informative, more persuasive, more anything.
- Adding Revising Strategy
- Adding is the easiest revising strategy and should be taught first
- Adding words or phrases can make the meanings of their pieces clearer and more vivid
- Replacing Revising Strategy
- Replacing is another revising strategy all writers use
- Makes writing better by improving the quality of what is already there
- Can replace words, phrases, sentences, or whole chunks of text
- Reordering and Removing Revising Strategies
- Revising by reordering should not be taught until students can revise by adding and replacing
- When se finish writing something , we realize that something we included does not really add anything to our writing or distracts the reader from the point we are trying to make
Prompt-Based Lessons for Opinion Pieces
The teacher will create a prompt for the students to write about. This prompt will include something that will be unique to each student by making them give their opinion on something.
Revising Opinion Pieces
- Introduce the topic clearly and state your opinion about it
- Give good reasons supported by facts and details
- Use words like because, for example, specifically, therefore, and consequently to connect your opinion with your reasons
- Provide a concluding sentence or paragraph
Focused Writing Lessons for Informative/Explanatory Texts
- Introduce the topic
- Give facts and details about the topic
- Have an ending statement or section
- Define a few important words if your readers might not know them
- Group related information together
- Use words like also, another, and , more, but, in contrast, and especially to connect related ideals together
Focused Writing for Narratives
- Introduc the narrator, one or more character, or both
- Describe the setting and situation you narrator or main character is in
- Have a sequence of events that feels natural to your readers
- Have an ending that follows from what happened and what the characters experienced
- Use dialogue and description to tell what happened
- Use dialogue or description to show how characters feel about what happened
- Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey what happens
- Use some transitional words and phrases to convey the sequence of events
I like the Writer’s Workshop, the process of having students write, edit, and publish their work. This will help students to enjoy writing and learn how to make their writing better. I also like the idea of the Author’s Circle. This way students can share what they have written with their peers and receive feedback on what they have written. I would maybe start this with journal writing and having students read things that they have written in their journals.