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Want your W.W. to run (nearly) seamlessly? If so, consider putting some or all of these structures in-place.

Yesterday’s post about structures and routines scratched the surface. THIS post gets nitty-gritty with the structures I try to put in-place, with regard to Writing Workshop, every September.

NOTE: I’ve hyperlinked all of the main bullets in this post so you can click on them and be taken to more posts that deal with the same topics.

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).

5 thoughts on “Want your W.W. to run (nearly) seamlessly? If so, consider putting some or all of these structures in-place. Leave a comment

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!


  2. First, I’d suggest explicitly teaching what a plan box should look like. It should be succinct, free of anything like “Find my seat” or “Don’t talk to my friends.” That’s obvious… hence the reason they create a plan box. I show samples of what a good plan box should look like by saying, “If I were creating a plan for today, here’s what it might look like.” If you do that a few times, they’ll get it by the time October rolls around.

    In terms of checking them: Kids finish their plan boxes at different points. Some kids fly through them and others take two-three minutes. Inevitably, there’s a stack-up of kids for a couple of minutes. However, if you’re clear about the expectation to wait quietly while waiting for the plan to be approved, then it stays relatively quiet.

    The first six kids in my class who show me solid plans (not the first six kids to show me their plans since they might not be comprehensive) get to take a bean bag, back jack chair, or lounge chair to their focus spot if their spot is not at their desk. This also helps kids to write solid plans in an efficient manner. Anyone who finishes after that may get a throw pillow and/or a throw rug to take to their focus spot… therefore everyone’s a winner! No one loses out on the furniture thing, but the bean bags, back jack chairs, and lounge chairs are hot commodities.

    In terms of approving the plans, I teach fourth grade and therefore use a smiley face system. (In 8th grade you could probably use a check for a good plan and a check-plus for an excellent plan.) The kids love to get an elaborate smiley face , even though it’s drawn in under seven seconds, with hair and earrings, which is the sign of an exceptional plan. Corny, I know.

    Checking plan boxes should take about five minutes. It’s basically sacrificing one conference a day for the sake of making sure all of the kids are on-track. I’m willing to live with that since it gives me a chance to check in with every kid every day.

    Finally, an alternative to you checking plan boxes daily. You could have the kids turn & talk with their writing partner about the plan they created. You can listen-in to what the kids are saying. However, I’ve found this doesn’t help me drive my instruction as well as seeing each kid’s plan for the period.


  3. i really see many merits in the plan boxes approach.

    question: when you talk about signing off on their plans, what kind of time are we talkin? is it a quick glance to see that they’ve got a couple orders of business, or do you spend a longer amount of time?

    i’m picturing a line of 25 eighth grade bodies, all waiting for me to check their plans… maybe i could adapt it to be an independent requirement, and count it as part of their writer’s notebook check… i’m interested in this… trying to work out the logistics in my head.


  4. I like the idea of the plan boxes. I can see how that would make their work more efficient and would ensure that they have something to get started on.

    Do you ever have kids that just don’t feel like writing some days? They claim to have nothing to write about. How do you solve that? I have tried a variety of things, and am happy with most, but I just wonder what other people do.


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