Writing workshop. Some teachers love it, but most teachers I know struggle to feel successful in this area. 

Teaching students concrete concepts, like how to add 2+3, or that living things have similar basic needs, is tangible and quite manageable. But how do you teach a child the craft of writing?

Each author brings a unique set of experiences and interests that influence their writing. No two books are the same, just like no two authors are the same. 

Writing involves planning, organizing, knowledge of language, creativity, and so much more. So how do I teach all of that to my six year olds?! It's quite a tall order. 

So it's no surprise that year after year I seek new resources, attend workshops, and read professional development books about writing. Every year I get a little better at teaching this truly complex subject. And every year I see better growth in my young students. 

This year I've made some major changes in my workshop methods.

Behold... the writing binder!!!

It all started with this book right here. I just ate it up. So much valuable information! Jennifer Jacobson is a genius. Seriously! Check out her website: http://jenniferjacobson.com.

So after reading her book I was ready to get started... almost. I dabbled with a few of her ideas last year. Then, in the spring, she came to NY for an all day workshop. I gathered my troops and off we went. (I also might just have been nerdy enough to bring my book so she could sign it!)

Hearing her speak and really getting a chance to understand more in-depth about how she runs writing workshop was AH-mazing. She shared so much more than was in her book. If she is coming to speak anywhere close to you, run, don't walk, and sign up to see her. It will be so worth your time, I promise!

Hence, FULL implementation this year. And I'm NEVER going back!

It all starts with the writing binder. Look at those glorious binders all lined up! Girls keep theirs on the top shelf, boys on the bottom. Totally alleviates the cramming of all binders on one shelf! 

Here's a peak inside the binders. There are three sections. I used page protectors and colored paper to separate the sections because dividers seemed too costly!

The blue section is for Resources.
The green section is Go (writing in progress).
The red section is Stop (completed pieces).

Here are some examples of their resources...
I include an ideas chart, an alphabet chart, some drawing charts, a heart map (this is one of my first mini-lessons), and a word wall. They use these resources ALL. THE. TIME.

Jennifer introduced me to the colored pencils for editing... green for capital letters, blue for sight words, and red for punctuation. LOVE that the kids can look for one specific convention and clearly spot and edit their errors.

I also leave out the stapler so they can help themselves. I sprung for an electric stapler to avoid the jamming and other problems that come with six year olds trying to operate a stapler!

And here is my conferencing pocket chart! I keep it right on our Focus Wall. There are three slots open for conferencing. I love that the kids can "sign up" for a conference when they feel ready to share a piece with me. Each student has an iPod card with their name on it. As soon as I call over a student, they bring me their card, and that leaves an open conference slot for someone else to sign up. So I just rotate... conference 1, conference 2, conference 3, conference 1, conference 2, etc. This gets me to keep conferencing, and make sure that I conference with every student frequently.

Finally my writing workshop truly flows. I start with my mini-lesson. I use mini-lesson ideas from Lucy Calkins, Jennifer Jacobson, and various teacher bloggers who have generously shared ideas!

Off my writers go to get their binders and get started. The binders stay neat and tidy, no matter how much my firsties write! (Folders always became a hot mess once they got full!)

I put on my Amazon prime FREE classical music and the magic happens. 

They write.

And write.

And write.

I give them a few minutes of quite writing before I start calling conferences. Jennifer suggests the silent ten (10 minutes where everyone, including the teacher, writes). Unfortunately I just don't have that much time in my writing workshop block (yet!).

I just love it. The kids love it. (Well, MOST of them love it. You can't always convince all kiddos to love writing, haha!)

What are your favorite parts of writing workshop?!

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