Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Students as Authors: Writers' Workshop Part II

Most of our writers’ workshop is spent writing, of course! Planning > First Draft > Edit/Revise > Publishing. These are the stages my students follow for each writing piece. They keep their work in a writing folder and move it from magazine box to magazine box based on each stage of the writing process (idea source from The Superlative Six). Nearly all of my Writing Process Labels have become detached from our boxes but if you're interested in seeing the labels, they are available for FREE in my TpT store. The students usually do two to three pieces each quarter. We spend A LOT of time on each piece to really make it quality. I am a big fan of Thinking Maps and have the students use them for the Planning stage. Sometimes I create my own Thinking Maps templates and sometimes I find JUST what I'm looking for from Lisa Lizak and Beth Wright or Read, Write, Think (click links for free Thinking Maps!). 

During the First Draft stage, students use their Thinking Map to compose their writing on special draft paper. If students need me, they sign up for a writing reservation (made with Google Forms) on the computer. I will also pull small groups based on what I see. 

Writing reservations also come in handy for the Edit/Revise stage. I love the writing reservations because it gives me a record of what students need and who I’ve met with but the best part is, the students do all the work! They love going to the computer and completing the writing reservation form. It makes them feel so fancy! I keep my iPad at my fingertips and have the results of the writing reservation form up on the screen and it updates in real time as the students submit a reservation. 

Student View of Writing Reservation                          Student in Action                      Teacher View of Writing Reservations

One of the most overwhelming parts of writing for me used to be editing student work so I then I got smarter and started having the students do most of it. It's a win-win for both the students and I because they become master editors with all the practice (I also like to think that maybe they put more effort into their first drafts so then they don’t have to correct as much, wishful thinking?) and I don’t have to spend hours after school editing every single error. 

During the Edit/Revise stage, I’ll pull a small group based on the reservations. They bring a marker, clipboard, and their first draft to the carpet. I keep a dry-erase board with me to do brief lessons based on their errors. I will instruct the students to check every sentence for a capital letter, punctuation, etc. and they use editing marks to make the corrections. As the year progresses, I add additional steps during the Edit/Revise stage, such as pick a word to find a jazzy synonym for, check for contractions, etc. During the final part of this stage, I pair the students up and they read their writing aloud to one another while I rotate around and listen in. The purpose of the partner read aloud is for them to give each other compliments and suggestions. Two brains are better than one, right?! They also catch a lot of errors once they hear how their writing sounds out loud.

Finally, the students move to their final draft! They write their story on loose-leaf notebook paper (it takes them forever to remember what side the holes go on! Does anyone have any tricks for that?) and sometimes they make it into a book! Every other month I organize an event called Quill and Scroll with my colleagues where five students from each class are invited to share a "published" piece of writing one evening after school. Families are invited, the kids dress's real special! Every student in the school gets invited to at least one Quill and Scroll during the year. Stay tuned for a more detailed post on how to organize your own Quill and Scroll!  

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