by Brynne O'Connell

1.  Writing workshop needs to be a consistent 45-60 minute block of time every day of the week.  No interventions or pull-outs should occur at this time!

2.  Paper makes a difference!  It is suggested to use the paper provided in the Resources PDF that goes with each unit.   This paper is specifically designed for the grade level & unit.  They suggest a folder with one side for finished work and the other for work in progress.  Composition notebooks or spirals can be used for generating ideas (or "seeds"), planning, free writing, etc. 

3.  Mini lessons should be BRIEF-- lasting only about however many minutes your students are in age (i.e. kindergarten = 5 minutes, 5th grade = 10 minutes). 

4.  Repeat the teaching point 10-12 times during your mini lesson.  All students should know and be able to state what the focus/teaching point is for writing workshop on any given day. 

5.  During the mini lesson, do not call on students!  This portion of the lesson is designed as explicit teaching with the teacher being the only person talking (unless students are turning and talking with a partner).  This will keep the mini lesson brief and focused on the teaching point.

6.  Conferring is an essential component of writing workshop.  Plan to confer with three or more students per day.  A 5x6 grid is a recommended way to document these conferences and ensure that you are meeting with every student at least once in a two-week period (potentially more than once for students who need more support).  While conferring, start with the teaching point and focus on only one skill at a time.

7.  Assign students writing partners.  These partners can be utilized during the active engagement portion of the mini lesson (turn and talk), revision, sharing, and even independent writing time. 

8.  Integrate the immersion phase into reader's workshop.  During the immersion phase, you are exposing students to mentor texts and discussing what you notice about these texts.  Ask: "How do these texts tend to go?"  These meaningful read alouds can be part of reader's workshop, preferably taking place the week before beginning a new MAISA unit.  This way, you can be immersing students in one genre and wrapping up/assessing another unit simultaneously. 

9.  Pre-assessments for selected units should be given BEFORE the immersion phase.  Plan on giving your pre-assessment for the first unit during the first week of school.  Once you begin immersing, students are already building their schema about the genre/unit.  Be sure to follow the guidelines for these pre-assessments (i.e. prompting, paper type, etc). 

10.  Copy and keep student authored work!  These pieces will become mentor texts for the following school year.  Also see the Common Core Samples of Student Writing (or look in the Unit Resources) for exemplars.

Happy writing!

07/03/2013 9:04pm

Great post and I appreciate how you captured the information on the training. THANK YOU!

08/29/2013 7:40pm

Thanks Brynne for the helpful tips!


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