Happy Monday Everyone!
I have to say, November is a busy month in our school. Lots of meetings with parents, evaluations, assessments, reports, planning, correcting, preparing... The list goes on, and on, and on, and on...
Our cycle just met with the Literacy Consultants from our school board and discussed ways to improve reading and writing in our classrooms. I'm pumped because we have put a plan in place that is sure to help our kiddies improve and succeed!
Increasing Guided Reading & Writer's Workshop periods is part of the plan of action.
Sooooo, I thought I'd share some of my Writer's Workshop strategies with all of you!
The most important component in Writer's Workshop is that we need to MODEL and TEACH writing in EVERY grade. ALL students need Writer's Workshop. The teacher must model the writing first and guide them throughout the writing process.
Students also need visuals and tools to help perfect their writing.
Class stories, spelling helpers, word walls, and anchor charts are a MUST!
We need to provide them with the necessary tools to write great stories.
A typical Writer's Workshop session takes about 3-4 hours in my second grade classroom. These are not consecutive hours and include the completion of a craft or art component,
as well as the sharing process.
Here is what a Writer's Workshop session looks like in my classroom. This is what works in MY classroom. You may wish to tweak or change certain aspects.
The modelling and writing tools is an aspect that should be seen in all classrooms.
READ ALOUD (15-20 minutes)
I always begin writer's workshop with a read aloud. I love to read stories to my students and they love to listen to stories. Works out well for us! During the reading, I ask questions about meaning, connections, structures and features. I also look at rhyming words, punctuation, and theme words. This is an important step because the story engages the students in the writing topic. It is also important because the teacher models good reading during this time. It is important for students to listen to GOOD reading. This helps them become better readers.
Choose interesting books, ones that you love. It is always best that the books be shorter rather than longer and have great pictures and text. Make it a valuable lesson.
THEME WORDS (5 minutes)
My writer's workshop periods are in the morning so I usually send the kiddies back to their seat to have snack during this step. I ask the students to recall some of the theme words we pointed out during the read aloud. Usually, these words can also be found on our Theme Word Wall. I ask the students to come up and point these words out and then go over the other vocabulary on the word wall.
CLASS STORY (15-20 minutes)
This is an integral part of Writer's Workshop. This is when you are going to teach students to become better writers. As a class, you will write a short story about the topic at hand. You will model appropriate spacing, printing, punctuation, sentence structure etc... It all happens during this stage.
IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF WRITER'S WORKSHOP!
Teach students about hooking the reader, about a closing sentence. Add structures and features to your class story. I like to have them all sign it as we are all authors of this story. Most importantly display it in class while the students write their own story. They will refer back to it. It is a tool.
STUDENT STORIES & EDITING (60 minutes)
This is the part where students need guiding. We usually do about 20 minutes and then continue Writer's Workshop the next day. I like to have them start their stories because they are filled with ideas from the read aloud and class story.
This is where the writing tools come into play. The teacher serves as a guide to help students write. Even my struggling students write their own stories. I do not spell words or scribe for anyone. Struggling students write 2 or 3 sentences. They sound out the words and use the tools available to them. I sit with them and GUIDE them.
Some TOOLS include:
CLASS WORD WALL
(this word wall is magnetic and includes frequently used words)
SPELLING HELPERS & THEME BOOKS
(students can find specific words in storybooks)
THE CLASS STORY & THEME WORD WALL
MY MUST HAVES INCLUDE THESE AMAZING FREEBIES
from my bestie Leslie over at First Grade Frenzy.
She is a literacy QUEEN and has taught me almost everything I know!!!
I use these for just about everything in my class. Writer's Workshop, Guided Reading, Volunteer Basket, and I even send them home! These are gems I tell ya!
Grab them for your classroom right over HERE!
These are all the tools I use to help students WRITE their stories as well as EDIT. At this point in second grade, I have students read their stories to me and I ask them to correct punctuation errors, and any spelling mistakes that can be found on the word walls, class story, or spelling helpers. Again, the struggling writers sit with me while I GUIDE them through the process.
PUBLISHING & SHARING (60 minutes)
I ask my second graders to write a good copy of their story and create a craft. Students then share their stories with their peers (sometimes in small groups, other times to the entire class). I also display their work. This is important because the students feel proud and accomplished when they see their hard work displayed. It also motivates them to do their very best.
Writer's Workshop is my FAVORITE thing to do! I try to fit it in twice in a six day cycle. I suggest doing it once a cycle at the beginning (as it will take much longer to complete at first) and then move on to two times. I also recommend that you complete the individual writing stage when you have assistance in your classroom, as students will be very needy at first.
The first few times are difficult and stressful (I think I actually saw a few grays in my hair), but students get the hang of it and become far more independent. It is a wonderful practice and really helps students grow as readers and writers.
Let me know how Writer's Workshop is going in your classrooms!
Until next time...