Posted by: writersworkshophelp | November 9, 2007

Lucy believes…

What are some of Lucy’s strong beliefs about Writer’s Workshop?

Stamina and Rigor

Lucy believes that the writing program needs to be rigorous. When she speaks of stamina, she means that children need to build up their ability to write fluently and for long periods of time. It is the teacher’s job to work toward building the stamina of her/his children. You may need to start by having the independent writing time be 5-10 minutes if your kids are younger and have not been required to write for extended periods of time before. You should, however, work quickly toward increasing the time expected of them to write fluently. Your job is to get them writing and writing fluently for increasingly longer periods of time.

Promote independence in children

Children are taught and expected to be independent in writer’s workshop. Once independent writing time starts, they need to know what they are expected to do and get going doing it. This means they need to know where all supplies are. They also need to know that it is not okay to interrupt the teacher if she is conferencing. They should be busy writing for this period of time. Children actually thrive with this independence and it frees you up to get some serious conferencing done with students.

Keep workshops simple and predictable

The writer’s workshop has a set format to it. It always starts with a mini-lesson with the large group gathered on the floor in front of the teacher. It continues on to independent writing time and closes with the large group back together again for sharing. There is an ebb and flow to it. Large group, small group….large group. The children learn the routine and without question, should know what is expected of them. They should be able to get busy without direction from the teacher once the routine is taught and established.

All lessons are multi-level

A great benefit of the Units of Study is the fact that the lessons are all multi-level. They are very open ended. Since the students are choosing their own topics and writing at their own level, the lessons are truly differentiated for all the different levels in your classrooms. Finally! With all of the mainstreaming and the wide range of levels common in classrooms, this is truly a curriculum that will fit all.

Writing is the ONLY option during writing time

This is a biggie! Students are taught that they are never finished in writer’s workshop. This is a paradigm shift from the traditional way many teachers have taught writing. In the past, you may have given a prompt and instructed the kids that this was the day for them to write their rough drafts. You know how it went from there. Johnny finished in 10 minutes and Suzie was still writing an hour later. The kids that finished early needed something to do to fill in the time waiting for others to finish. This is the beauty of the workshop way. During workshop time, children keep writing the entire time. They are all at different levels and stages of writing. Some may be publishing, others are working on rough drafts and still others are conferencing with the teacher. Children are taught early on that they are never done. Teachers will repeatedly say to them, “When you’re done, you’ve just begun”. They are directed to go back to their writing and either add to the pictures, add more detail, or perhaps start another piece. The main issue is they must get busy doing something with writing and only writing.

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