WARNING: LONG POST!
Thank goodness it the weekend! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted! I’m ready for the “beginning of the year craziness” to settle down and my life to feel normal again! Soon enough…
So…I’ve had quite a few people contact me lately asking about my typical routines for writing. I actually love it when I get personal emails asking for information about writing. It makes me know that people care. It gives me hope that I can spread knowledge about writing to others who are seeking a better understanding. And it keeps me on my toes…constantly thinking and learning.
This lead me to this blog post about how I run my Writer’s Workshop.
Now…when I say Writer’s Workshop, I’m not speaking in the Lucy Caulkins sense of the word. I call my whole writing time “Writer’s Workshop.” And as anyone who follows me or knows me knows (ha, that sounded weird), my heart lies with Gretchen Bernabei. She’s my writing hero! LOL
Ok, so enough about that. Here’s how my time looks:
I have (realistically) 60 minutes of writing time. It’s supposed to be more, but it falls at the end of the day, right before our intervention time, and after lunch…so you know how transitions are. They always take longer than what the schedule says.
As soon as we come into the room, we work on our Daily Writing Review. This lasts about 7-10 minutes, depending on the day.
Next up is our grammar time. This is where we go over things like nouns, verbs, tenses, complete sentences…pretty much anything that isn’t included in our review time. This lasts us anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Usually the first couple of days we discuss a certain skill/concept and create an anchor chart together, and then the middle-end of the week is reserved for looking into our own writing, finding places to apply these new things, whether it’s an old or new piece.
So we are now 20ish minutes into our Writer’s Workshop. I say “ish” because each day of the writing review and grammar review require different amounts of time. The last ~40 minutes are devoted to our writing.
In a nutshell, 10 for Daily Writing Review (which includes spelling, for those of you wondering), 10 for grammar, 40 for writing. If you’re interested in how the writing process goes down, continue reading. If not, thanks for stopping by! 😉
Ok, so for those of you in for the long haul…here goes.
I’ve had several people ask about how long it takes us to publish a piece of writing or to go from beginning to end. My answer: it depends. You’ll see why.
Many times, we spend three whole days planning out three different pieces of writing using the same text structure. Now for those of you who use Gretchen’s materials, you know what I’m talking about. Those of you who don’t…shame on you, first of all. No, I’m kidding. Gretchen uses text structures to help kids organize their writing. And Oh. My. Goodness. It works. Very well! So anyway, I pick one text structure that I want my kids to practice, and then give them a new prompt for three consecutive days. They use this planning page, fill out the structure, and write their kernel essay for three separate prompts. When they are done, they have three complete pages and are allowed to choose which one they want to take to publishing.
Yes, I give my students choice. Allowing them to choose what they want to write about makes it not so intimidating…and monotonous…and overwhelming. I want writing to be fun, and if I always force them to write about what I want them to write about, they start not to like it. Will there come a time (say, February?) when I don’t allow choice? Sure. That’s called “It’s a month before THE test and you HAVE to learn to write about what THIS prompt tells you to write about” time. Ha.
Next, I give the students two days or so to finish out their drafts. Some finish on day one, while others take two full days. If students are finished early, I tell them to go back. Reread. Think about your writers tools. Add in what you can. Read it to a partner. Ask each other questions about what’s going on in the story. Add in those details. Make it even better. And if all else fails, start a new free writing piece in your notebook while you wait for everyone else to finish.
It’s now been a full week…and no mini lessons. I know. It’s ok. Breathe. Relax. It’s coming! 😉
NOW it’s time for the mini lessons. I choose two things I’d like my kids to try out for the mini lessons. I use Gretchen’s book, Fun Size Academic Writing to choose lessons that I like and think my kids can handle. We try out all kinds of crafts…and it usually surprises me what they can do! They are little sponges.
So once I decide, I make copies of mentor texts (taken from that book) and give each student their own copy to keep. We use colored pencils, highlighters, pencils, pens…lots of things…to underline, highlight, circle, and color up the writing. We talk about the writing piece. We notice things. And then I invite my students to try out that particular writer’s craft in their own piece of writing.
This means that students have to REVISE their own work. You like how I kill two birds with one stone there? Genius, I know. My students learn that their first draft is NOT done. It is NOT perfect. Take that wedding ring off, kids…you aren’t married to that draft! It can change. It WILL change. All for the better.
We are now roughly seven days into this writing process. We’ve planned, drafted, revised and edited (<–during our grammar time). It’s now time to publish. I give my students cute computer paper with designs on it, along with a laminated piece of paper that has dark black lines on it. Since the computer paper has no lines, they use the dark lined page underneath it so that they show through and provide lines without them actually having lines on their page. Then once they’re done, they take the lined paper off of the back, and voila! A nicely written piece that doesn’t have lines….and doesn’t curve down the page.
I give them about two days to publish. This is their time to practice their VERY BEST handwriting…so I don’t want it hastily done! Once they are finished, it’s time for our Writer’s Celebration! You can read more about our celebrations and grab a copy of our comment page here. It’s a much shorter post than this one.
So there ya have it. A day in writing…and a couple of weeks worth of our writing process. Whew! It’s done!
You know the worst part of all of this…this is the SECOND time I have written this…because my computer didn’t save it the first time around. Yeah. I’ve been sitting at the computer for 2 1/2 hours writing. *sigh* The other one was probably better…but I got it done! 😉
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I’m so glad you stopped by! If you have any other questions, ask away in the comments section. I’m sure others probably have the same questions, and we can all learn from each other!
Have a great week!
Until next time…