Elementary Writer's Workshop

  • Philosophy

    Writer’s Workshop is an interdisciplinary writing technique that builds student fluency in writing through continuous exposure to the process of writing. Students learn to write by writing, so the bulk of a writing workshop consists of...writing! A mini lesson teaching a particular skill or concept is followed by a longer block of time devoted to writing and conferring, and then an activity that allows students to share their writing with the group.

  • Guidelines

    Mini-Lesson: 7-10 minutes

    • Use focus and units of study indicated in the SPPS Unit of Study Writing Calendar.
    • Deliver a 7-10 minute mini-lesson with these components: a connection to prior learning, one clear teaching point addressing grade level writing standards, opportunity for active student involvement, and a link to the day’s independent writing work.
    • Use your own Writer’s Notebook, a touchstone book, or student work to explicitly model the point of the lesson.
    • Create criteria charts with the students that reflect their learning about the genre or topic under study. The charts grow as the unit progresses.
    • Create ongoing class criteria with the students for spelling, conventions, grammar and punctuation—expanding as the year progresses.

     Independent Work Time: 35 minutes

    • Establish routines and expectations for effective use of writing time. Students build stamina for writing.
    • Confer with individuals students and small groups using the research, decide, teach, and record model.
    • Maintain an ongoing record of student writing conferences.

     Share: 5-7 minutes

    • Conduct a share conversation of 5-10 minutes at the end of every workshop.
    • Link to the teaching point of the mini-lesson using review, reflection and/or celebration of student learning.
    • Provide students with opportunities to play an active role in sharing their writing through various means including content shares, craft shares, process and progress shares.
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    What Makes a Good Mini-Lesson?

    Brevity: Mini-lessons are short, usually 7-10  minutes. They are intentionally kept short so the majority of each writing period is for students to write.

    Focus: Each mini-lesson covers a single, narrowly defined topic.

    Authenticity: The best mini-lessons are based on real things that real writers really need to know. They are practical and immediately useful. They are targeted to address, in a timely way, the specific challenges writers face as they explore new writing tasks and genres.


  • Variations

    • Tie the writing unit of study with your school’s program focus, giving greater context for learning the writing genre.
    • Provide multiple ways to access the mini-lesson benchmark, for example posting video of yourself modeling a concept or demonstrating a skill. Post the video in Schoology so students can revisit as many times as they wish to review.
    • Use Book Creator App to move from draft to revision and published texts.
    • Have students use Seesaw to capture their learning and share with you and peers.

  • Assessment

    • On-demand writing assessment administered by teachers at the beginning and end of each unit
    • Formative assessment of student work through the writing process to guide lesson and unit design
    • Teacher-led conferring and explicit feedback
    • Teachers use rubrics with students to set clear expectations for quality work.
    • Rubrics and self-assessment checklists are used for students to improve the quality of their work.

  • key image For Elementary Literacy Schoology group access, please contact Sue Braithwaite (susan.braithwaite@spps.org)