Student Choice During Writing Workshop (Launching Writing Workshop Tips)

September 10, 2020

Launching writing workshop in a K-2 classroom is all about setting the stage and getting students used to their new procedures! I recently shared a few other blog posts all about launching writing workshop with some of my favorite tips to get you started. You can see them below:

My Favorite Books to Use When Launching Writing Workshop

My Top Tip for Launching Writing Workshop

Today, I wanted to share a little bit about the importance of student choice during the writing workshop block.

Before I dive into this, I want to let you know that you can watch/listen to all the information over on my YouTube channel below:

While you’re there be sure to subscribe to my channel!

Student choice is at the center of the writing workshop philosophy. When you let your students have a choice in their own learning, they feel more empowered! Here are a few ways you can let your students make their own choices throughout the writing workshop block.


1. Students can choose where they sit

Now, this may or may not be a choice in your classroom due to spacing or other issues, but when this works it is a great way to let students make their choice. In the past, my students would choose their own writing spot just like they would pick their own reading spot during reading workshop. This place would be all theirs and they would grab their writing folders and bring it to their special spot to write independently.

I also would always keep clipboards out and available for some of my students to use when they were feeling like they weren’t being productive in their seats. Sometimes kids need a change of pace or a change of scenery, so grabbing a clipboard and finding a cozy spot around the room would help spark some new creativity and get them in the right headspace.


2. Students can choose what type of paper they will write on

This is a choice my students always have during writing workshop. My students grab their own paper when writing their stories and I like to offer a few different options. Some have large illustration boxes with only a few writing lines, others have smaller boxes with more illustration lines, etc.

Sometimes seeing these different paper choices can bring about a different feeling or reaction from your students. Some of your students will look at a bunch of writing lines and feel intimidated. Others will look at that big illustration box and feel intimidated. These feelings can change day to day and assignment to assignment. I always keep all my paper choices in a central location so students can grab the pages they need, staple it onto their book, and keep on writing!


3. Students can choose their writing utensil

One of the easiest ways to allow student choice is to allow them to choose their writing utensil. For some teachers, this may mean their students can write with a pen or marker. This was not the case for me… I am just not laid-back enough to do that and my students need to erase so often that I need my kids writing with a pencil!

That being said, I can still offer them some choices with their pencils. I try to make writing workshop a special experience so I like to buy all different types of pencils (skinny pencils, fat pencils, decorated pencils, all different colored pencils) and students can choose the one they like! Some years, I would let students choose a new, fun pencil every time we learned a new genre of writing. Something as silly as a new pencil really lets students buy into the writing process.


4. Students can choose where they are in the writing process

I shared this image on my Instagram page (follow me here) last year because it really rang true:

Our job as teachers is to teach students the writing process and what each part looks like and sounds like, but we don’t want to force our students to all be on the same step every day. It’s just not natural. During reading workshop, our students go off and read books at their own levels. The same should happen during writing workshop. Students can’t begin adding details if they haven’t yet gotten all their ideas down on paper and naturally, students work at their own pace.

The writing process is never done. Our job as teachers is to slow the process down and show students strategies to complete it. That way when they get to that stage, they can tackle it on their own with confidence and independence!


Do you have some other ways you encourage student choice during writing workshop? Share them in the comments below!


Pin to remember:

When launching writing workshop, student choice plays an important part of getting students excited and engaged in the process! Head on over to the blog post to read my tips for launching writing workshop in a K-2 classroom!

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