To write with intention means you need to focus and think. Writing is not a process to be hurried. In my class, I love to have my students write in a composition book, every other line, in pencil. I encourage them to just write, write, write…get those thoughts down on paper, don’t worry about errors or form, and enjoy themselves. Let go; let the thoughts, and mental visions flow onto the paper until your brain is dry! If the words are elusive, I encourage students to draw and write captions, or just create lists of topics or things that interest them.
Writing is a creative activity that should be honed on a daily basis incorporating in those focused lessons on genre, form, grammar, and skills. I start my writing workshop each day with a short lesson that includes the Common Core and state standards, in addition to topics across the content areas. Your writing workshop should not be an isolated block of time here and there. In order to get those creative juices flowing and decrease the amount of frustration, you’ll need a daily block of time for your young authors.
There are many ways to approach teaching writing and every teacher has their own routines and secrets, so think about what works and what doesn’t and how you can change it, make it better. Think about how you have it structured to meet everyone’s needs. I like to meet with 1-2 small groups each day. The other students will be brainstorming, planning, drafting, editing with a partner, illustrating, or reading. I also plan on conferencing with at least 3 students each day, in addition to having 2-3 students share their work.
My biggest nemesis with writing is grading writing pieces. Sometimes I look at the stack and I’m so overwhelmed, I just ignore it, but take it from me… don’t! Grade 4-5 each day and you’ll soon have them all done. Also, you don’t have to formally grade all pieces, especially the shorter ones, which I call quick writes. You’ll still want your students to share with an authentic audience for that immediate feedback and recognition, a big part of writing!
I’ve created my Writer's Workshop Planning Guide that you can download to help you plan for the important aspects and components of the writing workshop. In addition, you can download my Writer’s Workshop S.H.A.P.E. Up! to guide your students through the process. With a little planning, nurturing, and intention, your writer’s workshop will be up and running smoothly. It will be dynamic and creative, and you might find it difficult to get your students to stop writing versus the other way around. Check out my next blog on editing and revising, and these websites to inspire your students to be dynamic!