Writing workshop allows your students to become active writers; creating their very own text. Your students will acquire writing skills, build writing fluency, and develop pride in their finished work. As you begin your writing workshop, easing into the writing process will help your students understand and execute the process successfully on their own. And launching writing workshop helps you and your students set up routines that build success for the year. Walking students through the writing process, setting expectations, and setting goals for writing before even beginning to write will ensure that your workshop will run smoothly.
Why do we “launch” writing workshop?
Taking time to introduce a workshop model for your writers is important to lay the foundation for your writing instruction. A “launch” means a slow approach to beginning your workshop, allowing students to learn the routines before beginning independent learning. With this slow approach, you are engaging your students in the process of writing and creating a community of writers that have an understanding of the workshop expectations.
Setting up routines for your workshop is so important and can take time. Carefully planned mini-lessons, mentor text, and anchor charts can help your students learn routines, expectations, and set the stage for a successful workshop for the entire year.
Here are a few lessons to help you get your workshop started…
1. Finding Writing Inspiration
Students love to tell stories, but sometimes thinking of topics to write about can be tough. Before beginning any writing, finding inspiration can help students see that we can write about SO MANY things all around us. We are all authors and have a story to tell. There are ideas all around us and as writers, we just have to observe and be ready to write.
Students can create heart maps and include things that they love and hold in their hearts. Create an anchor chart with your own heart map to model your thinking. Discuss with students things that are in your heart…important people, family, hobbies, interests, places, memories, etc. Take suggestions from students and discuss why you would or would not add to your heart map.
Students can create their own heart map to keep in their writer's notebooks and use it as inspiration throughout the year when they are feeling stuck. As writers, students can use their interests and feelings to help shape their writing.
You can check out mentor text to use with this lesson HERE.
2. Creating Writer's Notebooks
A writer’s notebook is a place for students to keep their ideas, important information, writing goals, and space to free write. It is an important tool for students to use throughout writing workshop and will become an important reference as they develop their craft.
Taking time to have students create their own writer’s notebooks gives them pride in the tool that they are creating and an understanding of its importance.
Create an anchor chart with your students and discuss the sections of the notebook and ask, “Why do we have a writer’s notebook?”
- Keep your ideas
- Set writing goals
- Keep important information
- Free write
You can read more about setting up writer's notebooks and using them with your students in THIS POST.
3. Setting Writing Goals
Setting goals is an important part of launching writing workshop, not only for students but for you as their teacher as well. As students set goals at the beginning of the year, you can get to know them as writers. You can see where they find their strengths and areas that they would like to improve and cater your conferences to those goals.
You can discuss writing behavior goals and writing strategy goals while helping students understand setting goals that are realistic. Some goals may start small, like finding a comfortable spot or staying focused; these goals will grow as your students grow as writers throughout the year.
As writers, we are always trying to become better and setting goals helps keep us focused as writers.
4. The Writing Process
We know that students have been introduced to the writing process before. So why do we take time to go over the steps of the writing process again? It is the most important part of writing workshop, the time that students will be working and writing independently, it's what you will meet and conference with students about, and it is the foundation of student's writing.
Taking time to walk through each step of the writing process and slowly break down each step and its importance is key in your launching writing workshop process. When students understand what is expected at each stage in the writing process, they can work carefully and at their own pace when presented with independent writing.
Create an anchor chart for each stage of the writing process that can serve as a reference as students are writing.
A writing process flipbook is a tool that is helpful to use while introducing the writing process because it gives students a place to keep track of each step of the writing process. Having a flipbook helps students keep all things in one place while following the writing process.
5. Celebrating Writing
Taking an idea and creating a piece of writing is quite a feat and should be celebrated! Let's be honest, writing is not easy and when students work from an idea to a finished piece of writing, they feel a sense of pride with their finished work (as they proudly should). Celebrating their writing allows you time to discuss the hard work of the writing process and the reward you feel when you finally publish your writing.
You can celebrate by having students share their writing, having a writing museum, record them reading their finished writing and send to families. Anything that shows them just how special their writing is and makes them excited for the next writing project is worth the celebration!
Launching writing workshop is such an exciting time. It is a lot of work to learn new routines and create lasting habits. However, once you get there, you'll know it was all worth it. A well-run workshop is worth all of the efforts from you and your students.
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You can check out more writing workshop tips and ideas in THESE POSTS.
Shop all of the launching writing workshop resources from this post:
And find everything you need for the year in the bundle of writing workshop units here: