So what do we need to think about when organizing and setting up the Writer’s Workshop:
First, collect supplies:
*We use a 3 prong folder for each of our kids. We send the folder home with a letter explaining to the parents how to “scrapbook” the folder. You can get that letter (here) as a freebee.
*These photos provide the kids with lots of ideas that they can write about.
*We store the writing folders in three different tubs, with 1/3 of the class in each tub. This way not all of the kids are trying to go to the same place, at the same time to get their folders.
* Each child’s folder is placed inside of a hanging file folder. This way they don’t have to dig through folders to find theirs. Just push back the tab with their name and reach in and pull out their folder. Easy Peasy!
*There are also hanging file folders that hold the paper you wish the kids to use for their writing.
Take time to teach each of the tools:
*We use this tool chart to help organize our mini lessons and to remind the children of all the tools they have available as a writer. The chart is from the I Can Write unit.
*Some of the tools-pencils, markers, crayons, paper, etc are community supplies. They are kept in a tub on each table. Take time to show them how to take care of each item. I have a sweet friend, Karen Stamp, who has the blog Mrs. Stamp’s Kindergarten. She taught me this cute little rhyme for markers:
“If you don’t hear a click, your marker will get sick!” No more markers without lids!
*The other tools are kept in their carpet bags. We construct these items—word wall, unit vocabulary, word families, etc—during our large group carpet time. They are from the Pack it! Learn it! unit. During writer’s workshop I show the children how a writer can use those tools.
*The bags are kept on their carpet squares during the day, and stored in the baskets at night. They know they can go and get them whenever they need them during writing.
As you can see in the photo, they are not assembled. Here’s why: The first year, I had them all ready to go at the beginning of the year. I was so proud. I passed them out and told them to put them beside them on the carpet. Which they did. Then, I told them to find the folder that look like this. I proceeded to hold up a folder. And this is where the mess began, the entire contents of the carpet bag were dumped on the floor, kids were yelling they couldn’t find it…it was a mess! So I said, “Let’s just stop! Hand me everything!” I collected it all back up and put it in the baskets to deal with later.
Now, I only add the items to the bag as I introduce them. So it will take several weeks before all the items are in the bags. For more on carpet bags you can go (here).
Here are a few tips to think about when starting writer's workshop:
Everyone is a writer! Teach child there are three ways to write. Writing means conveying meaning. Think about a toddler who scribbles on a piece of paper and tells mom "go shopping". That's writing!
Good writers write about what they love. In writer's workshop you should invite children to pick their own topics. What do you do about, "I don't know what to write about"? Begin each unit of study with brainstorming for a few days. Help their children discover all the things they can write about. Encourage and model as they make lists to store in their writing folders.
Good writers are never done! Teach the children in a series of mini lessons what to do when they "think" they are done. Here's what's cool about writer's workshop--they are never done! Children are working at their own pace to create meaningful pieces of writing. As they finish, they start a new piece. One year I had this sweet girl, Arleigh. Her mom was a teacher. After school, Arleigh went to her mom's classroom and said, "Mom, we had the best day ever in kindergarten." Her mom asked her what did we do today. She told her mom, "Did you know that good writers are never done? Do you know what that means? That means I get to write all of those stories in my heart! Isn't that cool!" Arleigh is now in high school! She is an editor for the school newspaper! Yeah for writer's workshop!
These charts are from the I Can Write unit.