As elementary teachers, we all know that writing is an essential skill that our students need to master. However, teaching writing can be a challenging task, and we often find ourselves struggling to help our students develop their writing skills. How can the science of reading help?
By using the science of reading during writer's workshop, we can help our students become better writers. In this blog post, we'll explore how to use the science of reading during writer's workshop and share some tips and strategies that you can use in your classroom.
What is Writer's Workshop?
Writer's workshop is a framework used for students to develop their writing skills through a structured process. During writer's workshop, students should be given explicit instruction on a specific writing skill or strategy. Students are then provided time to practice the skill or strategy taught.
Using the Science of Reading during Writer's Workshop
The science of reading is an evidence-based approach to teaching reading that emphasizes the importance of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. These big five components are the building blocks of reading, and they are interrelated.
When students master these building blocks, they become proficient readers, and they also become better writers. By incorporating the science of reading into writer's workshop, we can help our students become better writers.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds in words. This skill is critical for both reading and writing. When students have strong phonemic awareness, they can identify the sounds in words and use this knowledge to spell words correctly.
To incorporate the science of reading in writer's workshop, you can help your students develop phonemic awareness by having them read their writing aloud and identify the sounds in words that they have misspelled. You can also have students practice writing words that follow certain phonics rules.
If your students are struggling with letter-sound correspondence, try this strategy: students will orally stretch out the sounds in a word and write a line for each sound they hear. Then students should write the sounds they hear on the lines. I like to provide a picture alphabet chart in my student’s writing folders to help support them.
Phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds. When students know the phonics rules, they can decode words and spell them correctly. This skill is essential for writing because students need to know how to spell words to express their ideas effectively.
As a warm up to your writer's workshop, you can teach phonics through explicit instruction, where you teach students the phonics rules and give them practice exercises. Make sure to explicitly teach students how to use tools to help them figure out the phonics patterns needed to write their words. For example, I like to provide lessons on using our sound wall when writing. I will also echo this same lesson during reading so students realize it is helpful for both subjects. Consider placing a student size sound wall in their writing folders as well.
Fluency is the ability to read smoothly and accurately. When students are fluent readers, they can focus on the meaning of the text instead of decoding words. Fluency is also essential for writing because it helps students write more efficiently. During writer's workshop, you can help students develop fluency by having them read their writing aloud and practice using expression and intonation. Students will also realize their writing is meant to be shared with others - an important component of writer’s workshop.
Another way to incorporate fluency is to have students practice writing sentences or paragraphs that include specific vocabulary or sentence structures. I like to show students specific sentence structures for writing introductions and conclusions.
Teaching handwriting, especially in the beginning of the year, can help students to boost their fluency. Although we think of fluency when reading, I feel it is also important when it comes to putting words on paper. If students are not fluent in understanding how to write the letters, they will struggle with writing words.
Vocabulary is the knowledge of words and their meanings. When students have a rich vocabulary, they can express their ideas more effectively. Vocabulary is essential for reading comprehension but is equally important during writing.
In writer's workshop, you can teach vocabulary by introducing new words in context, using graphic organizers, and having students use new words in writing activities. You can also incorporate vocabulary into writing activities by having students write sentences or paragraphs that include specific vocabulary words. The revising step in the writing process is a great time to work on vocabulary.
Comprehension is the ability to understand and make meaning of text. When students have strong comprehension skills, they can write more effectively because they can understand the purpose and meaning of the text.
During writer's workshop, you can help students develop comprehension skills by teaching them reading strategies such as predicting, questioning, and summarizing. Utilizing mentor texts and using read alouds in your writing lessons is a great way to improve comprehension.
Talking about the strategies the author used to capture the reader can help students understand the purpose and meaning of the text or story. In writer’s workshop we take this a step further by applying the same strategy our mentor text author used to our own writing.
I am a firm believer that reading and writing go hand in hand. When a student’s reading ability improves, their writing improves. Although the components of the science of reading have been around a long time, they are more important than ever as we struggle to bridge the learning gaps created by the pandemic. Making a conscious effort to echo our reading lessons during writing time can help our students become better writers.