During Writing Workshop, teachers support children as they embark on their trajectory of becoming independent, passionate, life-long writers. Writers learn to be evermore mindful & skilled at the qualities of writing, namely: infusing their writing with meaning/significance, structure, craft, elaboration, and conventions. Teachers create mini-lessons based on class writing needs, conduct individual and small group conferences with writers, and build children’s capacities to conduct their own powerful peer conferences.
Above all, we believe that children become strong writers by being immersed in the world of writing, walking in the shoes of writers and, of course, by doing their own authentic writing! In our Writing Workshop classrooms, writers are steeped in storytelling and learn to “Live the Writer-ly Life,” often going for Writer’s Walks & maintaining Writers Notebooks &/or folders in which they collect stories, ideas, beautiful language word lists, advice from professional authors, inspirations, reflections. Over the course of the year, writers (individually and/or as a class) engage in the study of a mentor author. During this unit, they read and reread this author’s books, noting what writing moves the author uses. Then, students try out some of these writing moves in their own stories, thus expanding their writing repertoire.
The Writing Process
Writers learn about the nuances of writing well across several genres and take their writing through the writing process, which includes: collecting ideas, drafting, revision, editing and publishing. Revision is likened to “radical surgery,” as it is during this stage of the writing process that writers pull apart their drafts, often cutting and pasting to add details, re-imagining beginnings and endings, adding/deleting whole scenes. A messy process indeed! Not surprisingly, it is the stage that many young writers grow the most! At the closing of each unit, writers publish their best work from the genre and celebrate their growth.
Our youngest writers craft their stories through a series of pictures, which show how their stories unfold. To young writers, these pictures are place-holders or representations which help them tell the stories of their lives. As our writers develop, they incorporate labels, dialogue bubbles, captions and sentences in their writing. Over time, picture boxes shrink to make way for the ever-increasing volume of carefully crafted writing of the older writer.