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Writing Workshop: How to Set Up a Schedule That Works

Setting up a schedule for your writing workshop does not need to feel overwhelming. Set up a writing workshop schedule that easily fits into your day will set consistent writing routines that develop your students into writers.

What is Writing Workshop?

Writing workshop is a time in your classroom devoted to writing. It is a time that allows your students to become active writers, creating and celebrating their own pieces of writing.  Your students will acquire writing skills, build writing fluency, improve writing stamina, and develop pride for their finished work.

Students learn to write best when they write often and for an extended period of time.  One of the most important parts of writing workshop is time!  When given time to write, students will grow and learn as writers. 

Writing workshop is student centered.  A workshop model helps students develop skills as writers with guidance from you, as the teacher.

Writing workshop supports writers by allowing them to choose a topic of their own choice.  Teaching a writing genre, using mentor text, and focusing on specific skills will guide a student’s piece of work; but students will write about the topic of their choice.  Student writing is based on their experiences, imagination, and knowledge. 

While writing prompts are an easy way to have students practice writing, writing workshop is not the time to give a writing prompt where all students write about the same topic.  Writing prompts are great for early finishers or centers, but not what writing workshop is intended for.

The importance of writing routines

Routines during writing workshop are so very important.  When beginning your writing workshop, modeling expectations is key to ensure that your workshop will run smoothly. 

Think about the beginning of the year routines and procedures…it takes a while to model and teach those procedures, but soon they become a habit, and slowly things just start to happen on their own.  The same goes for writing workshop! 

Model, model, model your expectations as you launch writing workshop, slowly giving students independence, and then right before your eyes your writing workshop has turned into a well-oiled machine that can run itself! 

When students fall into the consistent routine of writing each day, their writing will naturally grow.

The Structure of Writing Workshop

Mini Lesson (5-10 minutes)

The mini-lesson introduces the focus skill for the day.  This time is used to read mentor text (if applicable) and create an anchor chart.  Anchor charts are a great way to keep the skill visible as students move to work independently.  You may have a mini-anchor chart for students to keep in their writer’s notebooks or just have students copy the anchor chart.   

Independent Writing (20-30 minutes)

During independent writing time, students will work on the assigned writing and focus on the skill that was introduced in the mini-lesson.  Students implement this skill into their writing.  Conferencing with the teacher and peers will happen during this time.

Sharing (5-10 minutes)

Students will take time to share with the class, a partner, or a small group.  Students can share something that they worked on, something they learned, or a specific part of their writing.  This should be a quick recap to focus on how students applied the skill that was taught in the mini-lesson. 

At the end of a project, the sharing may be the entire workshop time with a “celebration” or as I like to call it, a “publishing party.” (Add party on to anything, and it sounds super fun, right?)

Total writing workshop time=30-50 minutes

Setting up your own schedule

So, how can you fit it all in?

The most important thing that you can do is to stay consistent. Decide how long your writing block will be, how many days a week you will devote to that block, and then stick to the workshop routines so that students are able to develop consistent writing habits.

Students thrive when they know what to expect and following a workshop model allows them to anticipate what is expected of them.

Writing workshop planning page

The thought of planning and implementing writing workshop can feel overwhelming sometimes, but with consistent routines, you will find planning and implementation will soon become second nature! And with consistent time to write, you will see your young writers develop a lifelong love for writing!

You can grab free planning pages and join a fun planning challenge below!

You can check out a complete Launching Writing Workshop unit here:

launching writing workshop

Happy Writing!



  1. Victoria
    July 31, 2021 / 5:59 pm

    Hello! Do you do Writing Workshop and Reading Workshop on the same days? Do you alternate? How do you usually plan the two workshops? Thanks!

    • Jen
      August 3, 2021 / 7:07 am

      It really is dependent on your own schedule and how much time you have or if you have a set block of time for ELA. Writing is easier to be flexible with time, so some days might allow for a longer workshop, and some might only be 30 min or so. I hope this helps!

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