Friday, July 21, 2017

What Makes a Successful Writer's Workshop Launch (it's not really about the writing at this point!)?

Back-to-School is right around the corner and I'll admit that I'm starting to get that "ready" feeling! Especially when it comes to building readers and writers. Last weekend I was sharing this crazy statement with a teaching friend and she was clearly not in the same place that I am. This year our principal is asking us to focus more time on teaching writing and she is not happy! I think writing scares many teachers because there are so, so many different approaches out there.  One thing I know for sure is that a successful Launch will make all the difference to your writer's workshop. 

Do you see yourself in one of these pictures? It doesn't have to be this way! Yes, writing is one of the more difficult subjects to teach well, but we can all do it.  The first thing is starting off on the right foot.  

What makes a writer’s workshop launch successful?
1. Routines and behaviors are established for writer’s workshop. These will be built upon for the entire school year.  Be sure all are involved and know exactly what is expected during writing time and what is not. 

2. We must build classroom community so why not add excitement for writing and can-do attitude in students?  Encourage writing across the day. Come together as writers, learn as writers, share information as writers. 

3. There is nothing more effective for guaranteeing student success than teacher expertise. Build your knowledge and understand the WHY and WHAT to teaching writing effectively. A launch is not only for the students, it’s for the teacher, too. You will need to build your stamina everyday during the launch, just like students are expected. 

4. Students must see themselves as writers. When this occurs, those writers will rise to their teacher’s level of expectation. Many times, they will surpass your original goals or meet them much sooner than expected. Think of Mem Fox and my favorite quote of hers, "The fastest way to teach a child to read is to teach that child to write!" 

5.  We must teach students how to think independently and critically. A successful launch supports students every step of the way. This allows students to become independent thinkers in reading and writing in a safe environment. You will not be able to conference with every writer everyday. Their independence will carry them between conferencing sessions. 

You can do this.  It's hard work, but so very well worth it.  Over many years of learning, coaching, and training teachers, I feel like I've figured a few things out. Not all, but a few. If you need a guide, click here for 1st Grade or here for 2nd Grade.  Or feel free to email me. I'm just an email away and happy to help.  Just promise me that if you want to run a successful writing workshop with your students, you will get everyone started on the right foot by launching it correctly! All kids and teachers deserve to be the best writer they can be. Good luck, writing teachers! :)


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