September 11, 2013

Beginning Writer's Workshop

 "Oh, the dreaded Writer's Workshop block of time"....these were my thoughts after the first week of school.  I was beyond worried after the first week was full of non-stop talking. How would we ever be able to make it through our writing time successfully??? Then, this week, they walked in like little angels. No talking, following directions, I thought I was in a dream!
Here is how our first week of Writer's Workshop really played out...
Day 1
To get our "writer's minds" thinking, we brainstormed with our tables things that make us special, things we like to do, etc.  After a class share, we took on the wonderful Cara Carroll's idea from The First Grade Parade and made heart maps. 

You can find Cara's original post here.
Click on the picture below to download a FREEBIE of my heart map. 
I really thought I must still be dreaming. 20 minutes of silent working...can this be real? We will see if it happens again tomorrow or if they were just tired from the 3 day weekend.
Day 2
After our success of day 1, I was pumped to start day 2 of WW! Our district uses Lucy Calkins model to teach writing. Our first minilesson was all about 'Choosing a Topic & Beginning'. I modeled, using my heart map, how I would go about choosing a topic. After a topic is chosen, students are to work in the following order:
1. Draw a picture.
2. Label the picture.
3. Begin describing picture in sentence form.
My example for them was all about my cat, Mac.
{No judging my quick sketches allowed!}
Here is what a working student example looks like:
At the end of WW, I introduced our new "turn-in" system inspired my writing idol, Susan from T.G.I.F. Instead of students keeping their work in a folder, I have them turn it in daily to 1 of 3 colored trays.
Red stands for still in progress {adding to the picture or words}.
Yellow stands for editing {revising, etc.}.
Green stands for complete {ready for teacher to grade}.
After a few practice rounds of turning it into the correct trays, I think they finally have the hang of it!
Talk about rockstars...they did it again, 20 minutes of uninterrupted quiet writing time! This really could become my favorite time of our day!
Day 3
We started off WW by reviewing the steps we learned yesterday on how to complete a story writing piece. On our first full day of writing (yesterday), I had a few friends who decided they were finished with their first piece. I knew this was the perfect time to teach a minilesson on what to do when you "think" you are done. I snagged this freebie (when it still was one) last year from Maggie's Kinder Corner.
Simply put, after modeling the 3 steps myself, I had students return to their desks to do one of the 3 things:
1. Add to the picture.
2. Add to the words.
3. Start a new piece.
AND, to my surprise every single one of them went back and added something to their paper.
 {Insert: PROUD teacher moment!!!}
Day 4
Today I let students work on finishing their very first piece of writing for WW. Many of them did so and even started the process from the very beginning on a new piece!
This truly has become my favorite part of our daily routine. This group of students have completely changed my outlook on WW. I can't wait to see how each and every student blossoms into a writer this year!


  1. Sounds like you're off to a great start!

    :) Tamra and Sarah
    First Grade Buddies

  2. I'm so happy for you! I think writing can be one of the most stressful but also most rewarding time!
    Keep it up!

    Mrs. Thompson
    Adventures in Teaching (A First Grade Blog)
    My TpT Store