Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Workshop Wednesday - Prep for Writer's Workshop

So, even though I don't go back to school for almost a month, I can't help but start to get excited about "BTS2013" when I sit here and read about all of my favorite bloggers prepping their rooms and getting ready to meet their kids!

I'm chiming in one more time for Jivey's Workshop Wednesday Linky! This time I'm going to talk a bit about how I do Writer's Workshop, and then I'd like to present something to you, my fabulous readers, and ask for input. One great thing about having 350+ followers (enter the giveaway!) is that I can ask 350+ people for help all at the same time! ;) 

So, first a brief explanation of what I do. I begin about 80% of my writer's workshops by reading a mentor text. Most of the time it is a short picture book, or a piece of a picture book that exemplifies a certain trait that I want my kids to emulate. I say 80% because some days we simply take time to "Just Write." 

What I do most days is pretty simple really, and nothing ground-breaking. I do about a 10-15 minute mini-lesson using my mentor text, model some writing along the way, engage the kids in a discussion on the topic we're looking at, and then send them off to write while I circulate and hold writing conferences with students. So the biggest prep I do is procuring books and ideas for mentor texts, and preparing a conferencing notebook. I travel to the kids during conferences, so I usually carry a clipboard and a sheet of labels to take notes for myself. Then I stick the label on their page later.

My writer's workshop is independent of the writing they do during Daily 5 and Science/S.S. time. I'll be doing the Mentor Sentences Units that Jivey has made with my kids this year, and while I plan to tie those into my mentor texts, that will happen whole group in a separate 15 minutes later in the day, after our reading block.

Anyway, in my room I'm a fan of referring to the Six Traits and I have in the past had the ever popular VOICES posters displayed in my room. This year I'm going full out and creating one of the VOICES boards for my room similar to the one I use for CAFE. In the past I've given my kids a VOICES menu similar to their CAFE menu only it focuses on writing strategies, obviously. Here it is:

I'm making the menu a freebie on one condition... I would love it if some 3rd-5th grade friends out there would take a look and see if anything is missing from the menu... I don't want it to be too cluttered or repetitive, but obviously I'd like for the menu to include more strategies if there are some to add. There are currently 30 strategies on the menu. Any suggestions will be taken into consideration and then I'll update and repost the menu as a freebie again!

The menu as it stands, along with my VOICES headers, and the 30 strategy cards for the current menu are available in my TpT store for just $3.00! (You can't even get a Big Mac for that!) Of course I'll update that file if/when I make adjustments to the VOICES Menu.

Thanks for the help! Be sure to check out all the other great ideas in the linky!


  1. Hey Nick,
    Love the Voices menu. I think its concise and well laid out. The only thing I would do differently is this. Where you put "use the correct format for friendly letters", under the organization column, I would put "use the success criteria for the form of writing you are writing". Or something like that. Our school board is huge on us using success criteria. This way, students know to refer back to various success criteria for all the different forms of writing: narratives, letters, persuasive, recounts, reports, etc.
    Just a thought.
    p.s. I just found your blog a few days ago and love it!

  2. Awesome menu, Nick... I popped you an email. :)
    Grade 4 Buzz

  3. What an awesome menu! I love it! Last year, I had to make my own sort of on the fly... NEVER AGAIN! I kept adding to it and having kids write things in. I was a hot mess! Love your work! I may need to check it out from your store!

    Thanks for sharing,
    My Shoe String Life
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  4. Thanks for sharing. Teaching writing is tricky but I like how you approach it focusing on one trait at a time!

    Grooving Through Fourth Grade

  5. This was such a great post! I haven't ever consistently used the traits, but I love your menu!! Blogging this past year is making me put to many new things on my plate for this school year I think! :-P
    ideas by jivey
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