Hello everyone and welcome back! I’m thrilled that there were so many people who found my first post in this new blog series helpful. If you didn’t catch my first entry in this new series, The Do’s and Don’ts of Launching the Writing Workshop, you can check it out here first! I am honored that so many teachers have tuned into my blog to gain some tips and tricks in launching the writing workshop. As you may have read by now, it is my absolute favorite time of the day with my students for so many reasons! I’m hoping that those reasons come across to you throughout this series. My wish is that you continue to visit over the next few weeks, read these posts, and have more confidence launching the writing workshop with your students.
In this series, I hope to include posts on several different topics. Let me again preface, that as much as I would LOVE the honor, I am not affiliated with the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project nor am I working with any other writing workshop curriculum. These series of posts are a combination of my own experience in the classroom as well as trainings I have attended.
This is a list of discussion points that I originally came up with and have decided to elaborate on after comments and questions from readers. I’m also planning on discussing the pen vs. pencil debate that I touched upon in my last post because that seems to be another hot button issue! I hope these topics will be helpful to you to get your school year started on the right foot.
I’m getting a head of myself though. In speaking to and responding to so many reader’s questions, I wanted to take a step back and share the philosophy behind the writing workshop today in order to help answer some other people’s questions. This philosophy will help answer some questions about the pen vs. pencil debate, shed light on the structure of the mini-lesson, and provide the foundation for your writing workshop teaching.
Period. End of Story. The writing workshop is designed to be just that: a process. Yes, there is a beginning and an end to your school day, as well as the writing workshop in your daily schedule. However, the teaching that you do with your students and the skills they practice should be on-going.
Something that you introduce in your mini-lesson one day should continue to pop up in conferences and small group work throughout the entire unit of study and afterwards as well. Why do you ask? Well, because the writing workshop is not only teaching your students to write to meet the standards, but it’s teaching them how to be writers like REAL AUTHORS. This writing process doesn’t change with the unit of study that you’re in.
Throughout my writing workshop time, I do NOT address my students as “kids/students/kiddos.” They are my writers. I get their attention by saying, “Writers, eyes on me.” “Writers, pens down.” “Writers, it’s time to share.” That’s what they are, they are my writers. I want them to feel like real writers, act like real writers, and believe that they ARE real writers.
So, what does the writing process look like to help them achieve this?
It’s actually a little (okay, a lot) different than what I was taught in school and some may not agree (please don’t throw your pencils at me).
I found this image originally on Blair Turner’s blog, One Lesson At a Time and I fell in love. This so perfectly, illustrates the philosophy behind the writing process.
The writing process should not be introduced in a linear way. Despite what those super cute charts on Pinterest show. It is an ONGOING process that continues to move and circle back around.
A student/real-life author does not just revise ONCE when creating a story. They revise throughout the ENTIRE writing process. That’s what writing workshop is all about. Teaching students to gather ideas by brainstorming and “touching and telling the story across pages.” Then, moving onto sketching and writing across those pages.
Your writers should continue to revise throughout their writing. They should constantly be adding details to their words and pictures. Teaching our students to revise and see how their work is never done is the gift of writing workshop.
Where does editing fit into all of this? Well, revising and editing are VERY different animals. I had a difficult time learning the difference! Revising, like I said, is ongoing throughout the writing process. My students revise by adding post-its with new beginnings, flaps to add sentences in the middle of their story, or “boo boo tape,” on top of sentences that they do not like.
Editing is where my students grab those funky colored pens and check for punctuation, capitals, and correct spelling. They’re making sure that their stories make sense and are easy to read. We edit independently and we also edit with our writing partners by checking the writing rubric for each unit of study.
Then, and only then, are they “fixing up and fancying up,” their stories by coloring, re-writing messy parts, and adding a cover. Not all of my students re-write their work, it depends on the child.
So, what does this have to do with the pen vs. pencil debate? Pens help show the students ALL of their revisions that they have made throughout the writing process. They can see the work they did that got them to the point where they were ready to publish and share their writing with the world. That’s the point where we CELEBRATE!
I love celebrations at the end of a unit of study! My writers are so proud to show off their work!
Phew, okay I hope you’re all still with me! I thought this information was important to share before going back to our regular scheduled programming of how to best launch the writing workshop.
With this knowledge of the writing process and the philosophy behind it, it’s easier to understand the why and how of the writing workshop.
I hope that this post was helpful and left you feeling a little more excited and ready to inspire your future writers.
I’ll be back in a few days with my newest post in the Launching the Writing Workshop Do’s and Don’ts series: All About the Mini-Lesson! I can’t wait to share more information with you!
Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by!