Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reaching Common Core through Writer's Workshop

So, I am sure that most of you are using the new Common Core Standards in you classroom this year. We started implementing them this year. When I looked at the Common Core Standards for Writing, I couldn't help but think that the writing portion of the standards is more about the writing process than standards we have had in the past. I started using Writer's Workshop in my classroom last spring, and my students loved it! Here is a brief overview of Writer's Workshop:

Writer's Workshop is what REAL writers do!
Writer's workshop is an  organizational structure that invites students to write by making the process a meaningful part of the classroom curriculum. Students learn to write daily through varied activities. In writer's workshop, students are exposed to the organization and thought required to create a story or write about a favorite topic and develop it into an understandable narrative with a voice and focus. Because they are allowed to choose the topic, students are motivated to create and complete works. Peer conferencing can become a central part to the creative process. The writer's workshop format includes story planning, revision, teacher editing or conferencing, and direct instruction in the conventions of English. This teaching technique allows students the opportunity to develop expression, revision strategies, and skill in writing, and encourages them to try a few new things during the revision process.
Writers Workshop can be paired with reading activities to create a powerful motivating, organizational structure when teaching literacy. Quality literature can become an essential source to model good writing, and a wise teacher will carefully choose books used as sources. In writing workshop, a teacher can quickly see a students vocabulary level, organization skills, their ability to learn, retain, and apply information, attention span, and how a student's abilities grow through the year.
There are generally four parts to Writer's Workshop. The first is a mini lesson. A mini-lesson is usually a 10 minute whole class activity. Mini lessons can vary from anything such as spelling techniques to teaching revision process. The next part of Writer's Workshop is "Status of the Class." I remade this board from to use in my classroom.
Status of the Class, is a time for the teacher to know where students are at in the writing process. This is also a good way for students to see who else is ready to revise and edit. This will help them to find a partner when it is time for the next step in Writer's Workshop- Writing and Conferencing. This is the part of writing workshop where most time should be spent. (about 20-40 minutes.) During this time, students work at their own pace. Students may be prewriting, drafting, revising and editing, conferencing with the teacher, or publishing a finished piece. The last part of Writer's workshop is Sharing or Author's Chair. This is the time when students get to share their published work. Author's Chair should last 5 to 10 minutes.
I have started implementing Writer's Workshop in my classroom this week. So far, so good! I will post more about the individual parts of WW in later blogs as well as share some of my mini lessons with you!
If you are ready to start learning more about Writer's Workshop and want to use it in your classroom then head on over to TPT and check out my "Learning Common Core through Writer's Workshop" packet.


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