Writing is a huge process that can take serious time to do well for the most professional of writers. When you ask elementary-age students to write, it can be a hair-pulling experience. So, how do you get your elementary students to write and write well? A writing workshop is a great way to help students be better writers and text ready.
What is a Writing Workshop?
A writing workshop is the practice of using the writing process. During a writing workshop, students can work independently or collaboratively. It is also a great time for teachers to help students with a specific part of the writing process.
Tip #1: Focus Your Writing Workshop
When you start a writing workshop, you want to have specific goals in mind. What part of the writing process are you doing to work on during this time? When we write, we have to brainstorm, research, organize, draft, revise, and publish. You can also work on grammar and other basics of writing.
Each writing workshop you work on should focus on one or two skills. Are you just starting something new? Let’s brainstorm. It can be helpful to pair this with another subject like reading or science. If you’re talking about mammals in science class, you can brainstorm a list of mammals and have each student pick one. Then move on to the planning step and give students a bit of time to research. In each step, you should give student resources like a graphic organizer or a writing folder to keep all of their work in.
Tip #2: Practice Each Skill
It’s not enough to just practice a skill one time; we all know that. When you practice each skill, there are a few tools you can use to help you.
- Your Word Wall: You can discuss the importance of using specific words to the topic. For example, if you’re talking about mammals, you might want to talk about your specific mammal’s habitat or diet.
- Sentence Starters: Encourage students to write more complex or more detailed sentences with the help of sentence starters that you provide. This is especially helpful if you’re talking about transitions.
- Learning Centers: These little centers can be used to work on a specific skill. You can have students work collaboratively on brainstorming, going through sources, organizing ideas, and more.
Tip #3: Use Guided Writing Practices
When you’re just starting out, it’s not a bad idea to have a guided writing practice. Having a “class” paper that you can work on together is very important. You can use anchor charts to help talk about each step. This guided writing can also serve as a great example for your students to use during their writing workshop.
Tip #4: Encourage Meaningful Collaboration During the Writing Workshop
Sometimes working together is an ok thing to do especially for students. Working collaboratively is a skill students will need to take with them when they move out of your classroom. Often when we write as adults, we need help and advice from others. Students are the same. It’s important for students to work together on one paper or help each other by editing and revising each other’s work. You can encourage this collaboration by having sentence starters for students or a set of questions for students to answer.
Tip #5: Publish the Work
Publishing your students work is a huge way to make them work harder! If students know you are going to be featuring their writing in the weekly newsletter, on your class website, or in the hallways. Having students share their work gives them a sense of pride and a sense of purpose!
Writing is a huge task for all students. When you teach students how to write effectively, make sure you use writing workshops to break down the steps. This can help you not lose too much hair and it can help your students become strong, inspiriting writers.