I love teaching writing! It is one of my favorite subjects to teach, to read about, and to experiment with. This isn’t the case for many teachers I meet or work with. Writing seems formidable, daunting, the last thing on the list. I want to change that!
Over my 25 years of teaching, I have experimented with Writing Workshop! I've read every book Lucy Caulkins, Ralph Fletcher, Reggie Routman, Katie Wood Ray or Barry Lane ever wrote on the subject. But then reality set in and I needed to know how to do it. What was the sequence? How did I think about writing? How did I develop my schema and eye for good writing? What feedback should I give students to move them forward as writers? That’s when I began to read more about the traits. I read books and watched videos by Barry Lane, Ruth Culham, and Vickie Spandel. I began to merge my thinking. I developed my schema. The traits were a way to look at good writing. They helped me analyze student work. I merged all of my reading and thinking and developed a systematic way to launch a workshop that integrated routines, process, and traits. This resource is the result.
I wanted to put all the lessons and ideas in one spot to help teachers launch their own writing workshop. This compilation of lessons is definitely not the only way to launch a successful workshop nor is it inclusive of all the lessons you could teach when launching. However, it is a start, a road map to a destination.
In this resource, I’ve listed 12 lessons that can be followed in sequence to launch your writing workshop. The twelve lessons introduce you and your students to five types of mini-lessons I use during my writing workshop including (1) Trait Lessons, (2) Process Lessons, (3) Routine Lessons, (4) Notice Me Lessons, and (5) Mentor Author/Mentor Text Lessons. Each lesson gives you lesson language, anchor chart ideas, mentor text ideas, and standards. Corresponding activity sheets and printable resources can be found in the Appendix. By integrating these lessons, I am able to successfully launch a workshop where routines and expectations for writing are set. The lessons are great for K-5 classrooms. You can use these as a stepping stone for your launching, changing mentor texts where appropriate, or upping the rigor or pace with upper elementary students.
The launching usually takes me three solid weeks of school (that’s with teaching writing every single day). After this, all the routines for a working workshop are set, and your students and their writing can be more fluid (not everyone is on the same step of the process at the same time).
If you’ve never tried writing workshop, or you want to add a few more ideas to your teaching toolbox, I hope you’ll find the lessons fun and easy to implement. Most of all, I hope you’ll love teaching writing too, especially when you see the smiling faces of your motivated student authors!