Starting Writer’s Workshop in First Grade!

August 30, 2014

This past week we launched our writer’s workshop lessons!


I use my writer’s workshop units throughout the year, but before we dive into small moments we talk about what Writer’s Workshop looks like in our first grade classroom.


This poster is hanging in our classroom and we go through each of these bullet points throughout the first week!
Lights off: My classroom is lucky enough to have tons of windows and we are able to turn down all the lights and still have plenty of natural sunlight to write with!


Music on: This one little CD has allowed me to curb talking during writer’s workshop more than anything I have tried in the past:
This little CD is one of a six-pack designed to help students stay focused during reading and writing. I had all 6 at my old school but unfortunately had to leave them all there! This was my favorite though, so I bought it again. I play it softly in the background and let the students zone out. If we get louder than the music, we have to turn it off and my kids get really upset! I am always amazed by how into it they are.


Students at desks: most students sit in their seats during writer’s workshop without any problems. However, I always allow students to find a quiet space at a center table or on the floor with a clipboard if they need it!


Teachers with students: It is important for my kids to know the expectations for the adults too! During writer’s workshop we are currently walking around and checking in with students. As time goes on, we will be able to pull small groups and individual students who need extra support.


Voices off/Feet in front/Sitting up straight: All self-explanatory, but we make sure to model, model, model what this looks like!


Brains working: Seems self-explanatory but this one, but this also takes a lot of modeling. I have students come up in the front of the class and show us what it looks like when our brain is working during writer’s workshop. It is pretty funny. My kids scrunch of their faces like they are thinking really hard and then they start pretending to write or draw. I always have them show the many ways it looks when our brains are NOT working during that time (heads on desks, slumped down in seats, pencils on floor, etc.)


Neatest handwriting/Colorful illustrations: The neatest handwriting I am not too much of a stickler on at this point in time. It will come to my students as the year goes on and we are beginning Handwriting without Tears next week. The colorful illustrations however – yikes! I don’t know what has happened to drawing, but I swear my kids don’t know how to color anymore! I spent one whole class period talking about using many different colors from our crayon box and adding more detail to our illustrations! They are getting better though!


Those are the basics in room 102 and if you walked by during our writer’s workshop block that is what you would see going on!


As for WHAT we are writing, we start simple. I want to know what my students can do at this point in the year and before we jump into the meat and potatoes of our writing units. I want my students to practice getting into the writing routine and building up some stamina.We do this using activities from my Write from the Start Unit:




These sentence completion sheets are just one example of many included in the pack. I love them because it lets me see who can complete the prompt in a way that makes sense and it also allows my students to trace the beginning and see what good handwriting should look like before they continue. We completed this one and “Good Friends” (I can be a good friend by…)  on days 1 and 2 of writer’s workshop.

Another writing activity we will complete is a picture prompt:

I will give students a sheet with a cartoon image and they are told to write what might be happening in the story. I also include some relevant words at the bottom for my students to reference. This helps get them started and not be held back by spelling and ideas, but instead it lets me see the basics of their writing. It establishes a starting point for each of my students to work from throughout the year!

I also include these activities at my writing center along with some mini-books that students can complete:

Now that my students know the routines and procedures of writer’s workshop in our classroom, we will be able to seamlessly dive into small moments and start writing some fabulous personal narratives!

If you want more information about my writer’s workshop units, I cover the following in my two bundled units below:
Personal Narratives
Informative Research Projects
Opinion Writing
How-to Writing
Writing Reviews
Realistic Fiction



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Starting writer's workshop in first grade?! Read how I get my young students comfortable and confident in their writing. The blog post also outlines exactly what Writer's Workshop looks like in a primary classroom!


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  • We started using Lucy this past year and was a tough first few months! But we figured it out, and the writing that came out of it – I can't wait to see what the kids do this year now we all have a year under or belts!
    Thanks for sharing

  • We are just starting Lucy this year and it seems a bit overwhelming but I'm so excited to see what writers they become!! I wasn't sure where to start and this gave me some good ideas for routines and expectations to teach!


    • I am teaching K-1writing this year for the first time. I love your poster!! How can I get one.
      I will be purchasing your materials right away. Also, I want the CD’s! GREAT ideas!

      Becky Meleney

  • Your writing workshop sounds like mine! 🙂 I love using the Kagan CD's for music in the classroom. It is so appropriate, calming, and great for productive work! Do you have the poster in your TPT? I would love to grab it as a visually or even just projected on my smart board for my kids as a reminder before writing starts or even leave it up throughout writing. I model my writing workshop after Lucy but I have to follow our scope and sequence for the year. We are starting with labeling pictures, captions, and then moving into personal narratives. I love teaching writing but it is hard at the beginning of the year.
    Rambling About Reading

  • Our school uses Step up to Writing and it IS NOT kindergarten friendly! I am blessed to have a principal who taught k and agrees. She is letting us (k team) look for something else. I have always wanted to do more with Lucy's program. I also turn off the lights and turn on music. Only I use pandora radio and The Piano Man station. LOVE it!