A few years back, if you were to look into my classroom window, you’d see a teacher that was
scared terrified of teaching writer’s workshop. It wasn’t one particular thing either that terrified me, it was pretty much everything about writer’s workshop that I found terrifying. I guess my direction wasn’t clear….. and I felt like a deer in the headlights. Yep…
I mean…. I didn’t have any training and I was expected to just know exactly what to do…. well I totally didn’t know what to do and I wasn’t even sure what made an effective writer?? So…. instead of sitting around moping, I decided I had to just figure it out. That’s what we do as teachers, right? We just figure it out.
So I purchased a gazillion writing professional texts…. tried what I was learning on in my classroom, researched writing best practices, and then tried that on as well…… After a few months, I noticed I wasn’t hyperventilating any more when it was time to teach writer’s workshop. In fact, I actually was looking forward to my writing time with my students. After 10 years in the classroom, I’ve learned this… when we start feeling uncomfortable in our teaching areas, that’s when we’re truly growing. Boy was I ever uncomfortable… I was trying on all these new ideas in my writer’s workshop, and….. to my surprise they were actually working! My writer’s were actually confident and so was I…. sigh
I make it sound like it was so simple, huh? Read a few books… try it on… be AMAZING! Ahhhhh….. the joys of making things sound so simple.
Insert reality…… It was a difficult task….. I had many failures…. many cries….. many sleepless nights…… many questions….. many try it agains…. many this many that and the list went on an on
Insert what I’ve learned….. After all that, I came out with a clear vision of writer’s workshop and how to successfully implement it in your classroom. I mean it took a good 4 years so see this…
There are a few key elements in building confident writers…
- Writing must be studied a lot-
We have an author of the month, and we study their work as an author. We analyze their text types, where they get ideas, how they write, and so much more. Our class charts the learning we’ve noticed on each author, and we apply it into our own writing.
2. Teacher modeling goes a long way-
If you think about it, any behavior you expect, you have to model. The same goes with writing, modeling good writing is an important link in the workshop. Students need to see the writing process come to life and come to life well. If we want our students to developing strong writing habits, it’s important we ourselves model them….everyday.
This is me. I’m getting ready to model writer’s workshop and teach a mini lesson.
3. Revision is the KEY to good writing-
I often read this quote, it reminds me of the importance in teaching revising and including revision lessons in my writer’s workshop. I guess I never quite understood the differences between editing and revising, until a took a good hard look at each. Revising is not looking back to fancy up and make a final piece, revising is deepening your writing one step at a time. Revision lessons are purposeful and focused.
4. All students can write-
I can remember looking back at my first years of teaching and thinking, “Oh my goodness, he didn’t fill up the page. I guess he can’t write.” or “How am I going to get my students writing?” I of course, was doing it ALL WRONG! Writing is a process that is cultivated tenderly. Writer’s workshop embeds all good writing practices and supports each writer as they grow.
If you are thinking of implementing writer’s workshop or are ready to amplify what’s currently happening in writer’s workshop…. check out my PD video on writer’s workshop.