What is Writer’s Workshop?
It is built on a framework that allows students the opportunity to write each day. It involves the teacher giving a brief mini-lesson followed by practice on the skill taught. The slide below outlines in more details what is involved in writer’s workshop.
Weekly Plan for Writier’s Workshop
In the link below you will find a comprehensive plan for implementing “Writer’s Workshop” in your Pre-K or Kindergarten classrooms. It is one of the best that I have come across. I found the plans to be very realistic in terms of where many of the students are at when they arrive in our classrooms. You can move through this process as your students become more competent in their writing ability. I realize this document is a draft and refers to outdated standards but I feel it is still very current and can easily transfer. I was very impressed on how the plans flow and how they are based on realistic expectations.
In my last blog post I discussed how teachers must be realistic about student expectations, regardless of curriculum standards. It is not uncommon for students to enter our classrooms never having the opportunity to hold a pencil, cut with scissors or unable to print their names. The first few weeks or even a month is devoted to addressing these concerns and writing expectations must reflect this. Unfortunately, in the computer age many students are arriving with even more delayed fine-motor abilities than in the past. This does not make our jobs easier in moving forward faster.
In the link below you will find a more detailed description related to the stages of a child’s writing.
Hearing Sounds Within Words and Associating to Correct Letter
In lessons 20 and beyond the children learn how to use the alphabet chart and stretch sounds in the link I provided above. Hearing sounds within words is a very difficult task for young children. It is a challenge for them to hear beginning sounds in words and then associate this with the correct letter and now we are asking them to go beyond this. We have to remember that this was an area that use to be reserved for grade one and has filtered down. The majority of the children can do this task but not independently. I spend up until the end of January focussing on beginning sounds but also introduce letters and sounds heard in the middle and end of words for those who might be ready. The majority of my students cannot competently hear initial letter sounds and associate these with the correct letters until the end of January. I would wait to introduce lessons 20 and beyond in the later half of the year.
In observing my students I also learned that they need a letter formation guide with a picture clue of what sound that letter makes because they forget when required to transfer this to a writing situation. Lesson 20 is devoted to teaching the students how to use this guide (displayed below). If you are a member, you can login to your account and find this guide under the heading “Alphabet Program” and scroll down to “Alphabet Pictures”.
In the later half of the year when I see my students are ready to apply what they learned about letter and sounds and moving into more conventional writing practices, I often forego guided reading groups and replace these with guided writing. When they are learning to stretch out words (Lesson 22) it is unrealistic to expect them to do this independently. Small groups helps relieve frustration and fosters greater individual progress. It also allows me to assess their ability.
Writing and the Common Core
I feel the standards outlined in this document cover the “Common Core” except for W.K. 6, 7 and 8. These common core standards refer to research and informational content. These can easily met and incorporated during your studies later in the year which might include Dinosaurs, Plants, Ocean Life, Zoo or Bugs. Once the students have gone through the acitivities outlined within this document, I feel they have a solid foundation for extending what they have learned into other areas of writing.
What are your thoughts on this issue?