As I am nearing the end of my journey becoming a reading specialist, I want to share some of the exciting things I have learned and experienced with kids this semester and the plans I have for next year. Not only do I LOVE to see kids becoming readers, I also love to see that same excitement and growth in students becoming good writers. Being a reading specialist is not only teaching students how to be good readers, it is teaching students to be literate. By using some of the elements of Writer’s Workshop in my classroom, I have been able to see this excitement for writing grow. It has meshed our literacy goals together as students see the connection between reading and writing.
I L.O.V.E. to see students ask to read when reading is not expected and to see themselves as real readers. I love the research behind which teaching strategies are best practices in classrooms and I even enjoy looking at the data for my students. This is true for writing also. My students choose to write when writing is not expected and they see themselves as writers. I love the research behind best practices in writing instruction and by keeping student writing samples there is data to compare.
Anyone can create a Writer’s Workshop in their classroom even if you do not have a large amount of time to devote to writing. You do need some time set aside to teach modeled lessons and you must set aside time for students to write. Most Writer’s Workshop models have an hour of time built into the schedule for writing but this year I have not had a block of time to devote just to writing. My Writer’s Workshop has been small chunks of time craved out to teach writing. It has not been ideal but my students have learned SO much. It will be a priority for me to advocate for this writing time next year.
Units of Study in Writing have been valuable this year. I would highly recommend finding resources to “teach” writing strategies when considering Writer’s Workshop. Here are some of my favorite Lucy Calkins units. They are easy to follow and have concrete examples of mentor text to use to teach writing and they really reinforce the connection between being a reader and writer.
Lucy Calkins units are not the only resources available but are worth your time exploring. There are also many ideas on Pinterest and other blogs about Writer’s Workshop. I would encourage everyone to explore how this valuable set up could change the way you teach Writing. Here are some links that show how writer’s workshop could look in the classroom and some ideas and resources you might borrow.
I know that our county has purchased a writing program and plans are being made to implement it. I hope that our teachers will have the freedom to choose the structure of their classrooms. I would like to create a Reader’s Workshop and a Writer’s Workshop in my classroom. My hope is to create a classroom where learning to read and write is systematic and structured and meets each individual child’s needs while being engaging and enjoyable. Children should see learning to read and write as natural and Fun!!