Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Writers' Workshop - Where Do I Begin?

One of the many new programs that my district is implementing this year is Writers' Workshop and Lucy Calkins' units of study for writing.

While I was excited to jump in and (attempt to) try this program with my students, I wasn't sure where to begin…even with the three days of professional development that I had to attend. How does one even start this program? Let alone launch it with a group of students who aren't at grade level and have had few independent writing opportunities?

I started with the thought that I had to get myself - and the kiddos - organized. This meant putting together folders that they'd be working out of for the rest of the semester.

I started buying products from Teachers Pay Teachers left and right in order to supplement the unit materials and to help organize my students' writing folders that we threw together (literally!) I've found a few resources that have really helped my students get organized.

The first is The Wise Owl's Launching Writers Workshop - Set Up and Routines product. This was a great help when my staff and I were assembling our students' writing folders prior to our launch. She had a lot of folder inserts that we ended up using - including a monthly "word list" of commonly used words for each given month.

I also purchased Luv 2 Teach K's Writing Workshop - Individual Writing Office Folder. This also had multiple pages that I used for inserts into the students' folders - including pages for digraphs and blends.

We have yet to get into the unit of study and the "official" lesson plans…but I have launched our workshop and the kids have really enjoyed the time they get to write. At this point, we let them pick their first writing topic (after doing some group brainstorming) and they've been busy completing a first draft.

I have some kiddos who STRUGGLE with writing independently and we've been letting these guys use sentence frames to start out. My next BIG task is tackling how to adapt Lucy's lessons to best fit the needs of my particular group of students…especially those who struggle with producing independent writing samples. Challenge accepted!

Do you use writers' workshop? How do you best adapt the formal curriculum to fit the needs of non-independent writers?

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