As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, writing workshop was a main staple of our curriculum, not to mention one of my very favorite things to teach. I followed the Lucy Calkins units of study, but no matter what your program, you can easily structure your writing workshop (WW) in a fun and engaging way. I’m going to go over how I set up my writing workshop and what it looked like each day.
I had an area of the classroom that was for the writing cubbies. I had a whole “Little Red Riding Hood” underlying theme to my writing workshop, so we often referred to this area as the “writing woods”. The cubbies were made out of a sturdy oak that really stood up to first graders. I had always envisioned tucking the cubbies away in the corner and surrounding them with paper trees that the art teacher would help me make. I never got around to doing that, but how fun would that be??? Anyway, the writing woods was where our “little red writing folders” lived.
The little red writing folder was a sturdy plastic folder that held all of their work for each unit of study. There were two pockets inside the folder – one for unfinished work and one for finished work.
On the first day of school, students begin writers workshop by writing a story or drawing pictures about their summer. They immediately go into their folders after that first day. Throughout the first few weeks of school, I am going through the routines of writing workshop per Lucy Calkins and we are creating lists and anchor charts about our writers workshop. One of those lists that we constantly add to is titled: What to do when I think I’m finished and includes things like, “Go back and reread”, “check for punctuation”, “does it make sense”, etc. Once the students are used to seeing these lists, then I staple them on the inside of the little red writing folders to give students a quick reference point.
We would start the writing workshop with a mini-lesson in our whole group. Usually I would read a story, using an author to model good writing techniques and behaviors. Sometimes we would do shared writing where the students would assist me as I worked on a large piece of paper and other times I would just write my own story, modeling out loud to the students how I think and act as a writer. Writing workshop was typically first thing in the morning or first thing after lunch, so students were eager and ready to begin.
After the mini-lesson, students would move to their desks to do independent work. Writing workshop was always a silent work time to allow others to think and concentrate on their stories. We would occasionally dim the lights (but still keep it bright enough to see) and put on some soft music in the background. Then I would circulate and conference with students one-on-one. I would use the individual conferencing sheets in my Teacher Anchor to help me do this. I would keep blank copies of the sheets on my clipboard and take notes as I met with each individual.
When the individual work time was over, we would come back to the circle and share as a whole group or they would partner up to peer share (We usually only peer shared once a week and only after I had done extensive mini-lessons on how to partner up, what to look for, and ways to help). During the share time, I was also continuing to take notes on my conferencing forms. After the workshop was over, I would hole punch all of my individual forms and put them in the students individual section of my Teacher Anchor.
At the end of each unit (usually about every 4 weeks), once we had published a story, celebrated and/or danced on our desks (which we only did once or twice a year so it didn’t lose it’s novelty), I would collect all of the students writing pieces from their folders and put them in my big gray filing cabinet in a file folder with their name on it. We called this the “Big Bad Filing Cabinet” because it was gray and went with our Red Riding Hood theme. I would file their work chronologically, always putting the most recent writing behind the others. This was because on the very last day of school, I would present the students with their entire file folder of work from the whole year. The look on their faces as they compare their last piece of writing with the one they did on the first day of school is my most favorite memory from the entire year! The room fills with “oohs and aahs” and lots of laughter when they look back through their writing. And it changes SO much!
Lil Red Writing Folders // NOW AVAILABLE
I am so excited to announce that the C. Jayne Teach shop is now carrying Little Red Writing folders!!!
Each folder is made out of thick, durable plastic and has the words “Little Red Writing Folder” written on the front. Also there is a convenient space for their names on the front as well. Inside the folder are two pockets, but that’s not the best part. The best part are the checklists that are pre-printed on the inside! So your students can refer to them throughout the year!
These are sold in sets of 22 or can be purchased individually. We accept Purchase Orders and school wide orders so you can use your room account to pay for them. You can also list these on your school supply lists and have your school parents purchase them individually right here.
They are currently available for pre-order and will begin shipping in September. Yahoo!!!
How can you not have a successful year full of writing when you have your very own little red writing folders to accompany you on the journey? Yay!