...sharing thoughtful, mentor text-inspired lessons your students will love!
I want to incorporate more of the writers workshop model in my classroom. I teach 6th grade Language Arts - 80 minute blocks. I feel that I have so much to teach that the workshop model is getting put to the side. I have vocabulary, district required novels, required writing pieces, etc. that take up most of my time. I do try and have the students write everyday - either on the novel, journal prompts, using the vocabulary, on video clips I show, on articles I pull, and more. I would love to see how others fit it in to their schedule. How do you teach everything else and do a workshop? I don't get how to make this happen. I think seeing some lesson plans or a schedule/calendar of lessons will really help me visualize how to fit it all in. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
The great thing about Writer's Workshop is that it can be altered to fit any need and schedule. I have used a WW format in my classroom for the past 5 years and I do it differently each year. I haven't perfected it yet, but I feel like I improve each year. I would highly recommend reading any and all WW books by Ralph Fletcher and Aimee Buckner. For me, WW has these main points. 1. Write every day - some days I do not have time to fit this into my classroom schedule but students understand that they must write in their Writer's Notebooks every day even if that means as "homework." 2. Free choice in writing - I supply students with ideas and suggestions but I never require a specific topic or format. 3. Share - I learned that students are more likely to write purposefully if they know they will be given the opportunity to share. Sharing can mean one sentence, one paragraph, displaying under the document camera, the entire entry, or even paraphrasing the entry...whatever students are comfortable with. 4. Mini-lessons - These should take no longer than 5-15 minutes. In the beginning, my mini-lessons focus on setting up the Writer's Notebook and WW procedures. We explore ways to find ideas to write about. The more time I spend on these types of lessons, the smoother WW goes later in the year. My future mini-lessons focus on skills I feel my students need help with and I love using picture books and vignettes as quick mentor texts. I recommend www.writingfix.com for mentor texts and mini-lessons, as well as Craft Lessons by Ralph Fletcher.
On a perfect day, I have a mini-lesson, time to write, time to share. But when I am in the middle of another project, students write at home. When this is the case, we begin with sharing what they wrote the night before, have a mini-lesson, and then they write at home.
I hope this helps. I remember feeling frustrated when I began WW. I almost wanted someone to say, "Do it this way." In my personal experience, I found WW difficult to begin but WELL worth the time and effort - quantity leads to quality. Good luck with the process!