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Routines and Structures: Things to Teach Kids in September So Your Year Is a Breeze!

I was doing some thinking this morning about the routines I’ll need to rehearse with my students this-coming September. My mind went from general (e.g., walking in the hallways, fire drills) to the specific (i.e., Writing Workshop). Therefore, I figured I’d post my working list of structures I want to teach my fourth graders so that my expectations for Workshop Time are exceedingly clear.

  • Transitions to and from the Meeting Area
  • Plan Boxes
  • Focus Spots for Independent Writing
  • Using the Writing Center
  • Mid-Workshop Interruptions
  • Conferring Expectations (“The Conferring Scarf”)
  • Using Charts & Mini-Charts
  • Cleaning-up from Story Surgery
  • Sharing
  • Writer’s Notebook Checking Day Procedure
  • LMK if you’re interested in me posting specifics about any or all of these.

    Stacey Shubitz View All

    I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

    I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

    10 thoughts on “Routines and Structures: Things to Teach Kids in September So Your Year Is a Breeze! Leave a comment

    1. Ryan:

      I’ll post a bit more about each of them later today. In the meantime, you can do keyword searches for each of those items. There’s already a lot of stuff online in our blog archives about each of these things.



    2. Hi Stacey,
      I was wondering if you could talk throughj each of these structures in a little more detail – I love how you are thinking ahead to cultivate independence in the classrooom. If not all, could you provide a little more detail on how you organized focus spots and notebook planning day? How did you make planning boxes purposeful so that kids had a well to draw from when planning their future writing work? I also have Leah’s book on the Share component and would love to have a partnership blog conversation around the book- if you’re interested. Cleaning up from story surgery???? Love the sound of it, what is it?


    3. Nope. I’m the only person who wears the scarf. I wear it when I’m chatting with students during Reading and Writing Conferences. It’s a sign I’m talking with one of the peers about their reading/writing and that I cannot be interrupted.


    4. Year 3 of teaching the scarf was from Israel.
      Year 4 of teaching the scarf was from India.
      Both were gifts. Both had histories which the kids learned.
      Neither one was ever pulled upon (thankfully).
      I didn’t like using this visual, at first, since it seemed rather juvenile for upper elementary school kids. However, the scarf is a sign to the child that <>


    5. Dear Stacy,
      I am curious about your writing workshop and not familiar with terms you are using such as Plain Boxes, Cleaning up from Story Surgery, Writing notebook checking procedure. and more.

      I would love to learn more.



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