Saturday, July 18, 2015

Writer's Workshop by Amanda {First Grade Garden}

Hi everybody! I'm so excited to be back here at iTeach First! It's been awhile since I've posted here, so I can't wait to share with you today! Today I'm going to show you and tell you about how I teach writing in my classroom. I have a bunch of pictures of activities I have done throughout the last few years and I will post links to the units and freebies I used!

I do a Writer's Workshop in my classroom. I have about 35 minutes for writing, so I break up my time like this:

Each month we focus on a different genre of writing:

My mini-lesson is short and sweet. Ten minutes max. Sometimes I model writing--thinking out loud as I write. Sometimes I read a mentor text. Sometimes we practice fixing up some writing. The lesson is connected to the genre of the month and usually addresses something I see in my students' writing or something I would like them to try in their writing.

Below is an example of a personal narrative story map example we did, based on the book Patches Lost and Found. Next some modeled writing--I think I asked my students to help me make my writing more interesting. This was a pretty boring story of a really exciting event! lol. And then some editing work with Mr. Fix-It himself!

After the mini-lesson, it is writing time! Writing time is just that. A time for students to write. We build up our stamina in September and do a lot of work with procedures--thinking of ideas, proper sentence formation, goal setting, etc. We do special writing projects such as these ones below, but we also do a lot of choice writing where students can pick their own topics.

I Like Pattern Stories -- freebie on my blog
Autobiography -- unit from The Teacher Wife

All About... Expert Stories -- freebie on my blog
Fractured Fairy Tales -- from my Fairy Tale units

Non-Fiction Animal Books -- unit by me
Ouch Story Personal Narrative -- idea on my blog

How To Blow Bubbles Writing -- freebie from The Teacher Wife
How To Get Ready for Recess -- freebie on my blog

While my students are writing independently, I confer with about 4-5 different students each day. I just take my little clipboard over to their table and talk to them about their writing. I usually only spend about 5 minutes per child and I see every child at least once a week. I ask them questions about their writing, talk about the writing goal they are working on (I ask them if they can show me evidence of the goal in their writing or we see if there is something they can work on), and compliment them on something they are doing well. On my clipboard I have two papers--a goal recording sheet and just a plain note taking sheet (looks very similar to the goal one except it already has the students' names on it--so I confer with all students before going back to the beginning again). I keep track of the goals they choose by writing a quick note. I will sometimes put down a check mark or x each time I confer with them to see how they are doing with their goal. If I am seeing a bunch of check marks, it must be time to set a new goal! The other observation sheet just has space for anecdotal notes to mark down areas the student is doing well in and things they need to work on (perfect to refer back to for report card writing!).

To keep track of my students' writing goals, I created this board. I bought a small magnetic white board from Staples, divided it into ten sections with ribbon, and attached magnets to the goals. (I change out the goals as the year progresses, to reflect my students' ability levels.) Then I created pencils with my students' names and added magnets to the back of them as well. I let my students choose their writing goal, but sometimes during conferences I might strongly suggest a new goal, such as "You are getting really good at leaving finger spaces between your words, but I see that sometimes you forget to put periods at the end of your sentences. Maybe you could make that your next goal!"

If you are interested in setting writing goals with your class, check out me new pack by clicking the picture below. There are 30 different writing goals to choose from and 3 types of editable pencils to use with your students' names. My goal conference sheet is also in there too!

Last but not least, it's sharing time! I pick two or three students to share something they are working on. Then we usually do two stars and a wish--tell the author two awesome things about their work and one things they could work on or add to their writing to make it even MORE spectacular. We usually focus our suggestion on the writing goals from the board.

Phew! You made it to the end! Sorry about the overload of pictures! I hope you got some fun writing ideas to try next year though! Don't forget to come check me out at First Grade Garden!



  1. I love this post! I love your "I can" board! Please tell me how to make it! The photos and explanations were awesome! Thank you so much!

  2. I found all of the info I needed! Thank you! My phone was not showing all of the post initially for some reason! I will check your blog out, too!

  3. Thanks for sharing all of these ideas. I love how you break down the genres and your writing block!

  4. Just what I was looking for! I'm moving to 1st after teaching 2nd so I love seeing the pictures! Thank you :)