jim vopat · writer's notebook · writing · writing workshop

Getting Started: Creating CWPs

Heinemann just published a lovely series of three booklets by Jim Vopat entitled Micro Lessons in Writing. I am so excited about infusing these micro lessons into my classroom, starting with some of the ideas presented in the first of the three booklets, Big Ideas for Getting Started. In fact, I loved one of the micro lessons so much that I might send it home with my intro letter to my students that I’m sending out this week. I’m going to have my students complete a Celebrity Writer Profile, or CWP. Hence, I’m going to include my CWP so just to help you get a taste of what one looks like, here’s the first draft of my CWP.

Name: Ms. Shubitz CWP Photo
Brief biographical sketch: Ms. Shubitz taught at fifth grade in East Harlem from 2004 – 2007 after changing careers from public relations to education. When she was a fifth grade teacher she co-authored a book with ten of her students and her former student teacher entitled DEAL WITH IT! Powerful Words from Smart, Young Women. Ms. Shubitz has two master’s degrees, which she obtained when she was living in New York. One is from Columbia University’s Teachers College and the other is from Hunter College. Ms. Shubitz recently moved to Rhode Island. She’ll be getting married this-coming December in New Jersey, which is where she grew up as an only child.
When did you start writing? I began writing mini-books, made out of construction paper, when I was six years old. My first grade teacher, Carol Snook, stoked my love of writing by encouraging me to write as many mini-books as possible. She always placed them on a revolving shelf in our classroom library.
What do you do to get ready to write? I draft in my writer’s notebook so I can tinker with my idea(s).
What are your favorite writing materials? I love spiral spine writer’s notebooks and roller ball pens.
What do you do to put off writing? If I don’t want to write, then I’ll pick up whatever needlepoint I’m working on and will start stitching until I get the urge to write.
What inspires you to write? The little things I observe around me inspire me to write. I notice people: how they act, what they say, and their actions. I also try to take in the beauty of the world around me. I make more out of the small things in life, such as fireflies or a perfectly tied bow on the top of a present.
If you had a pen name, what would it be? Lilly (Lilly is a translation of my Hebrew name, which is Shoshana.)
What advice would you give to other young writers? Get a compact writer’s notebook and a small pen. Take it with you wherever you go so you can capture anything provocative or out of the ordinary.
What have you always wanted to write? A children’s picture book. I wrote a manuscript for one last summer and I’d like to get it published.

Perhaps putting this into paragraph form would be better. However, with fourth graders, I think that would be cumbersome and would take a lot of the enjoyment out of this task.

I envision these profiles, with each student’s picture (I’ll bring my camera into class to take photos of them for this activity so no one is left without a photo.) going up around my classroom with a header of either CELEBRITY WRITER PROFILES or MEET THE WRITERS.

6 thoughts on “Getting Started: Creating CWPs

  1. This looks like a lot of fun. I like the idea of holding off until they are all together. It reminds me of an activity Beth and I use at the beginning of the year. The students interview each other and write a biographical sketch about each other including a picture. I like the idea of it being a Celebrity Writer Profile. You are telling the kiddos from the get go that they are writers. Good stuff. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.


  2. I decided to hold off on doing this until the school year. I think it’s too good of an idea (Thanks Jim Vopat!) to risk kids not receiving it in the mail and therefore not handing it in at the start of the school year.


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