This year was my first year doing Writers Workshop, and it has gone pretty well. My kids have improved by leaps and bounds as writers, and they seem to like to write–although a week away from our state standardized writing test they are DONE with “prompted” writing practice! I certainly have not done Writers Workshop perfectly, and I will do it far better next year–I already have my list of ideas and things that I will try and do differently, but overall I think I found a good balance.
One of the things that I invented…or at least I don’t think I stole this idea from anyone else…is called the Writer’s Roundtable. As I started with Writer’s Workshop, I realized that I never had enough time for the sharing side of writing, and my kids LOVED to share their writing! Enter: Writer’s Roundtable. I designate one Friday afternoon ever few weeks for Writer’s Roundtable and this is how it works:
- All the kids choose a piece of published writing, or a writing they really like, and put it on their desk.
- I give everyone a piece of fun, colorful paper for comments to put next to their writing.
- Everyone gets up and finds another persons desk. They read the story there and make specific, positive comment. (I did a mini-lesson about this!)
- When they are finished with one, they choose another…
- This goes on until the time is up!
This was a HUGE hit in my classroom! And I have never had a more quiet, energy filled 35 minutes. All students were diligently on task, and the only sounds that pierced the silence was a quiet giggle or “wow” as they admired their classmate’s compositions. Oh, and an occasional, “You have to come read this one!”
When the students went back to their own desk at the end to read their comments they were so excited and affirmed in their writing skills! Take 30 minutes out of a Friday and build your kids up, try the Writer’s Roundtable.