Starting writer’s workshop is probably the most important set of lessons you’ll give during your writing time all school year. Launching your workshop is more about procedures and expectations than actually writing.
Define Your Workshop Model
To launch your writer’s workshop, let your students know what a workshop entails. If you’re a fan of Daily 5 then you’ll share with students what your writing time will look like, sound like, and feel like. I like to brainstorm with my class each of these sections on an anchor chart to refer to them the first few weeks.
Separate from this lesson, I like to also have a lesson about our writing workshop roles.This is another idea that comes from the Daily 5 book by The 2 Sisters. As a class we will discuss the teacher’s job and their job as students.
Practice Using Supplies
When launching writer’s workshop it’s also important to set aside time to teach your students to use their writing tools. For my own class, the writing tools include their writing notebook, writing folder, pencils or black ink pens, blue pens, and red pens.
Depending on my students' attention and behavior, I might break this lesson up over several days. I like to have my class practice getting and putting away their supplies a few times.
At the beginning of the year I’m looking to see how they follow directions and their speed. As I’m sure you know, every minute of instruction counts! The first few weeks back to school are the perfect time to be practicing your expectations.
Setting Up Notebooks
After my students learn about my expectations for writer’s workshop and caring for our supplies, we take a day to set up our writing notebooks. In my class I use thin composition notebooks purchased by my school. Students keep these notebooks inside their writing folders.
I choose to have my students do their story writing on loose leaf paper and keep only their ideas in the notebook. I find this helps separate the writing process for students and makes it clearer when we are planning and when we are writing. If choosing to keep both planning and writing within the same notebook, I recommend using tabs to separate the notebook into sections.
Now that my students are familiar with the writing workshop model in my classroom and how we should use our supplies, we can begin writing.
Before I teach any lessons about how or what to write, I like to pre-assess my students by getting a writing sample. The reason I do this before any lessons is that I want to know what they were taught previously and what they remember after summer.
This first writing sample will tell me a lot about my new group of writers and will be invaluable when planning my writing lessons in the future. I also use their writing samples to set individual writing goals.
Related Post: Setting Student Learning Goals