When launching writing workshop in a kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classroom, my BIGGEST tip and takeaway is to model everything. This may seem obvious, but it is so important for your young learners to see and hear everything explicitly so they know what the writing block will look like in your classroom.
Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know that I made an entire video with all this information. So, if you’d like to watch or listen to this information, just click below:
model all procedures:
The first part of modeling everything is to model ALL your procedures! I spend the first couple weeks to a month just going over the procedures of writing workshop. I have shared this little image before, but this was the anchor chart we used back in 2014 in my first-grade classroom.
Based on your own classroom and mindset, this may look different in your room, but there are things you’ll want to consider:
Where will students meet for the mini-lesson? rug, tables, etc.
Will they sit in a circle? Rows? Assigned spots?
Where will students sit during independent writing?
Where will their materials be stored? I always kept our writing folders in our desks or chair pockets because I hated wasting time with students in line to retrieve their items.
What will the teacher be doing? Set and follow your own expectations.
What does independent writing SOUND like? Music, whispers, etc.
What should “good writing” look like?
I mention this in the video, but I always loved classical music playing in the background. We would use this CD which had a great soundtrack of light music! It was so relaxing:
Once you’ve come up with your own idea of what you want your writing block to look like and sound like, make sure you explicitly teach your students each one. I made an editable anchor chart for you to use if you’d like! Just click below to grab it:
model “good” writing:
After you’ve gone ahead and modeled all of your procedures, you’re also going to want to model what good writing looks like. I do this two different ways. First, we use mentor texts a lot! That way students can see and hear different voices and writing techniques from many authors. This allows them to see that not all personal narratives are the same and they don’t need to follow the same formula all the time.
I also show them “good” writing by modeling my own writing piece for each genre. Every time there is a mini-lesson, I show them how I would do that skill in my own piece of writing before sending them back off to their seats. This allows them to hear me think aloud and watch me physically add more words, illustrations, labels, etc. to my writing before they add to theirs!
Above is an example of a review I wrote in pieces along with my students. When I do a mini-lesson on different ways to open my review, I think aloud as I go ahead and add an opening to my review right in front of my students. Same with adding details, editing, providing reasons for an opinion, etc.
In my SJT Writing Club, I actually include examples of my modeled writing with each lesson! Since I cannot physically be inside other teachers’ classrooms, this is a great way for teachers to see how I would teach each lesson and what I might think aloud before I add to my writing! Below are some examples from the club of how I show my modeled writing:
So as you go into a new school year, think about modeling EVERYTHING as explicitly as you can for your youngest learners to get them set up for success in writing workshop.
Do you have any other tips for helping teachers kick off a great year of writing in a primary classroom? Leave them in the comments!
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