Writers Workshop, just the beginning…

This week I have been reading “About the Author: Writing Workshop with our Youngest Writers” by Katie wood Ray and Lisa B. Cleveland. Writers Workshop is something I used in my student teaching and really enjoyed using. I did not learn about it in my college classes I learned about it as I was going by following the book while student teaching. We do not use Writers Workshop here in Alleghany County as a rule, but I really like the setup of Writers Workshop and want to use it in my class.

Chapter 1 focuses on The Writers Workshop and specifically on a first grade classroom that is getting ready to be tested on their writing. I want the ideas I’m letting students make their own book and this chapter tells us that making stuff is developmentally appropriate. It elaborates on the fact that children love to make books, projects, and other things and that these this process of writing is teaching them. Things such as making books teaches students about title-pages, genres , pictures in books, narratives, illustrations how bold font is used, how texting me manipulated and much more. This chapter also teaches us that letting children like books teaches them how to read like writers and live like writers. When students make their own writing piece they learn to appreciate books more that they read as well in my opinion.

Chapter 2 focuses on what you need in order to be able to set up Writers Workshop successfully in your classroom. In talks about how children need as much experience as possible when writing and that they need support also. This book talks about setting up your classroom and offering space is for your students to work in.  We do something called daily 5 in our classroom. There is a Writing Center as part of the students selections. In this Center students have the freedom to make books, write letters to friends, make a card for their mom dad or teacher, free write in there notebook, anything their little Minds can imagine. As long as they are writing I let them have the freedom to choose what they would like to do. We also have a 30 minute block of riding each morning where students are taught in whole great with a mini lesson then work independently on a writing piece. Setting up the classroom to be inviting for Young is the easy part. Finding the time to work this into your day is where I think each teacher struggles. I am excited to continue reading this book as well as my other book my receive as part of this class.

 

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When things go wrong, go to plan B

I had high hopes of launching writer’s workshop in my first-grade classroom this semester, but I am now on to plan B. Someone told me I was a real teacher working with real kids and I might need to just take one small step instead of one giant leap. I took my small step this week by having writing conferences with some of my students. I will share one interaction that took place.

Pete chose to write about his favorite thing about winter using a writing prompt sheet I downloaded for free at http://www.thisreadingmama.com. I know! Writing prompts are a big no-no in writer’s workshop, but I just put it there in case they needed it. When he came over to me, I noticed the only period he had was at the very end, so we worked on conventions. I had him to point and reread what he wrote. I asked him to listen and stop his finger where he thought a period might need to be. His finger just kept on going until he got to the end of his writing. So I pointed and read stopping at appropriate places. We had a discussion about the need for a period at the end of a thought and he added the periods (total of 3) to his writing.

I then noticed he had left out a comma and quotation marks when he spoke in the writing. I had him go get his book box. I selected one that had dialogue and asked him if he had ever noticed when someone spoke in the book, there was a comma after said followed by quotation marks. He told me he had noticed them, but forgot what they were for. Pete added the comma and quotation marks to his writing. The comma may have been a stretch to teach to a first-grader, but I felt he definitely needed to know about quotation marks.

I also noticed that he did not capitalize the first letter of his snowman’s name. He smiled and told me he just forgot. After he fixed that, his writing was perfect. He wrote the entire piece by himself spelling every word after the prompt correctly. As you can see in the picture, he is a perfectionist.  I taught Pete last year in kindergarten. I know I taught him how to use a period and capitalize names. I wonder since I am not present during their writing time, if this is a side effect. I dare say it is. 

Although I did not have to correct any spelling mistakes, I wonder how other teachers feel about correcting spelling on their students’ finished writing. Is writing the correct spelling above or below the misspelled word a good thing or a bad thing?

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