Writer's Wokshop Update - Week 3

Last week I posted about our writer's workshop at the beginning of school. I love sharing what I do AND it's great for me to be able to go back and see my own process. If you missed my previous post click HERE.

I promised I would keep updating how our writer's workshop is going so I'm back today for a little update......before it starts to looks very different. EEEKKKK!!!!! I'm excited for what's coming up. But let me share with you the new routines we put in place this week.

Last week we got our writer's workshop folders. I LOVE these folders. They are called Nicky's folders and they are made from a soft plastic. They have a clear pocket on the front and back of the folder - plus the pockets on the inside. My grade level bought these for our take-home folders - but I had to buy more to use for my writer's workshop folders. They last all year. They bend and mold so easy. I tell my kids they are "magic writing folders" and they need to have their folders under their paper as they write (really it's to keep them from losing their folders all over the place, but it does help make their writing more clear)........ok, so maybe I'm falling for my own story a little :0) Anyways, they believe it and LOVE their "magic folders".

When it is tidy up time after we've shared (super important to have them share), kids place them in their chair pockets. They fit perfectly sideways and don't fall out. I gotta tell you that I LOVE these chair pockets too. They aren't the regular size - they are "mini-sized" just like my little ones. I got them at Really Good Stuff HERE. I love that they are really holding up extremely well. I was so afraid they would tear, but I haven't seen any of that! LOVE THEM!

We also stopped using community crayon tubs for writer's workshop this week. We received our own "green pouches" where we keep our individual crayons and pen. This is an important step in writer's workshop for my room because they are no longer tied to sitting at the tables.

NEXT STEP: We will begin talking about how all writer's don't sit at tables to write. They find nice, relaxing places to perfect their craft. I will do lots of modeling how I  choose a good spot to write and which spots are not good. We practice finding spots to write and in time it becomes like second-nature.

I love this time for 2 main reasons:

1. I like when they are spread out around the room because they generally talk less and it a quiet hum begins indicating thinking writers are at work.

2. I love the feel of the room  - lights are turned down, calm music playing, and kids spread out (some slouched over a low table, some laying on their bellies, some choose to sit at a table) - it's about choice. Controlled choices. THIS IS WHEN THE REAL WORK OF WRITER'S WORKSHOP CAN BEGIN TO UNFOLD!!

Visual Schedule
This is something I've toyed with using for years, but I am such a forgetful Nelly I've never really kept up with it. I always figured I'm in charge of what we do in the class so why do the kids need to see our schedule?

I am a total convert! I made the decision I was going to use a schedule this year and I am so glad I did. I even employed the kids to help me with it and keep me on track. THEY LOVE THIS SCHEDULE! If I forget to flip a card over after we've done it - they remind me. They also use it to help them understand our day internally. If we have 2 more activities before lunch - I no longer get a ton of "When is it lunch time?" questions anymore. They look to the schedule and determine for themselves. I often hear them say, "It's not too long before lunch. We just have big book left." I love hearing this talk! I am now convinced of the importance and benefits of using a visual schedule. If you don't currently use a schedule - listen to me. I didn't used to "get it", but now "I totally get it". Use one for Pete's Sake! :0)

QUESTION: Do you use writer's workshop? Do your kids sit at tables or choosing their own writing spots??


  1. I do writing workshop a la Lucy Calkins. It's brilliant, and I love what my kids are writing. We still have a long way to go of course, but we have a good foundation. I've never thought about letting kids find a spot to write, mainly because I've always associated writing at tables or desks and I personally find it easier to write on a hard surface. Let me know how it goes!
    Teaching in the Valley

  2. Liz - that is the way we write every year after about the 3 week of school. It works brilliantly. The kids love being able to lay down or sit at a table. I love that it helps keep them quiet and focused on writing......

    Remember we back our papers with folders - no problem-- wouldn't do it any other way. In fact, I personally don't like having to have them all at tables......:0)

  3. We just "formally" started writers workshop this year. We are just generating list of writing topics. So far, we have been at tables but will introduce writing spots this week.

    We are using Benchmark for our writer's workshop. Anyone else familiar with Benchmark Writer's Workshop. So far, I really like it!
    If you have a moment, check out my blog at:http://www.carolredmond.blogspot.com/

  4. Carol - we use Lucy Calkin's Units of Study.....I like it.....What do you like about Benchmark?

  5. We do Lucy Caulkins and I really like it. We choose our spots to work too. It's really special to the kiddos to pick where they work.

    Sprinkles to Kindergarten

  6. I love that you let your kids choose a comfy spot to write. I'm sure you will have a lot of success that way!

    Pixy Stix and Teacher Tricks

  7. Where did you get your visual schedule? I have been resistant, but I think it is time as we are to have an agenda posted in our rooms anyway.
    And while we are at it, the green pouches . . .
    Oh, and do you still have 1/2 inch binders? Do the soft ones hold enough for a year?
    LOVING you posts - totally inspiring me.

  8. I'd like to get started with a Writer's Workshop in my class this year. I love your posts!

  9. Sue - the green pouches come on the chair pockets when you buy them - well worth the money and a perfect fit for little chairs. I never used the 1/2 binders -- I just use the Nicky folders and LOVE them too. They do last all year.......I keep portfolios of the kids' writing so we clean them out once a month and it works well....

    I definitely encourage you to try the visual schedule (I made my own).....I am a total convert!!

  10. Love these ideas. I have always wanted to have chair pockets. This might be a dumb question but can you stack the chairs with the pocket on them? Our school has a strict policy on stacking chairs. Lol.