Sharpen Your Workshop Routines: Don’t Skip Share Time

It is almost time to start writing those daily lesson plans again.  Do your daily plans clearly spell out the minilesson, independent work time, and share time of your writing workshop?  Here is a personal confession from the classroom:  more often than not, I skipped share time.  Some days, I just ran out of minutes.  I was not keeping a watchful eye on the clock, and before I knew it, writing workshop time was over.  On other days, I was watching the clock, but I was lured by the possibility of just one more one-to-one writing conference with a student.  Whatever the reason, there were many days that I ended writing workshop without share time. Instead, I called out a simple, “Great job today, writers.  Please put away your notebooks”, or I used the ever-so-eloquent, “Line up for gym!”

As you head into a new school year, make yourself this promise: I will not skip share time during writing workshop!

Share time is just as important to writing workshop as the minilesson and independent writing time.  Share time is another opportunity to teach and to assess.  Also, coming back together as a whole group after writing builds classroom community and provides a sense of closure for the students.  In our district, we call this time “reflection” (using Ellin Keene’s literacy studio language.)  This subtle change of language helps us remember the true purpose of this 5-10 minute time each day: to reflect on ourselves as writers.  Teachers link back to the minilesson and the day’s learning target.  In this way, writing workshop comes full circle each day.

Make yourself a promise this school year that you will not skip share time.  Plan for share time in your daily lesson plans.  Write it down, and highlight it in yellow.  From the first day of writing workshop, set a timer for 5-10 minutes before your writing workshop ends. When the timer dings, it is share time.  Don’t skip share time!

[clock] by RHiNO NEAL is licensed under CC BY 2.0

[clock] by RHiNO NEAL is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You will need to decide each day if share time will be for a process or a product share.  This will depend on your minilesson and learning target for the day.  A process share is when the students share part of their writing process, and a product share is when students share a portion of their actual writing.  Here is a menu of possibilities to get you started in planning:

Whole Class Share Everyone gets a turn to share.  This works well for a product share when the content will be only a few words, such as sharing a title or a single line from a piece of writing.  It helps to give the listeners an active role.  The listeners can sit, notebooks in hand, ready to write down any tidbit they would like to use in future writing.
Turn and Talk  Talk to a partner.  This is a nice alternative to the whole class share.  Everyone still gets a turn to share, but they share with a partner instead of the whole class.
Make an Anchor Chart Record the day’s learning on a classroom chart. This is a concrete way to link back to the minilesson and reflect on the day’s work.  Rather than creating an anchor chart during the minilesson, save it for share time after students have had a chance to try their hand at the day’s lesson.
Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Restate the learning target for the day, and have kids rate themselves as writers.  For example, you could say, “Today we learned that writers sometimes use pictures to add detail to their writing.  Think about yourself as a writer today.  Thumbs up if your picture added detail, thumbs down if it didn’t, and thumbs to the side if you’re not sure.”  This only takes a minute to accomplish, but it encourages students to reflect on themselves as writers, and it gives you a quick reading of the class.
Reflective Questions Ask students to think about themselves as writers.  Examples are: What did you learn about yourself as a writer today?  What did you try as a writer today?  What did you struggle with as a writer today?  Everyone can share with a partner, a few students can share whole class, or no one can share as they simply sit quietly and think.
Teacher Choice The teacher strategically chooses one or two students to share their process or product that day.  Choose students who did an exemplary job of meeting the learning target that day.  Or choose a student  who took a risk as a writer.  The student shares their work or their thinking as a writer, and share time becomes another opportunity to reinforce a teaching point.
Written Response Instead of sharing orally, students can quickly reflect in writing on a Post-It note or an exit ticket.   This is helpful for the teacher who needs to do a whole class assessment of the day’s work or plan small group work for the following day.
Go Digital Use technology to share.  Students can tweet out a reflection at the end of writing workshop or contribute to a class Google document.

Just as you would never skip your minilesson or independent writing time, don’t skip share time this year!

Let's have a conversation about sharpening workshop routines.

Let’s have a conversation about sharpening workshop routines.

Twitter Chat:

We’ll wrap-up our week of blog posts with aTwitter Chat on Monday, August 11th at 8:30 p.m. EDT. This will be an opportunity to talk about procedures that have worked in the past and new ones to start before the school year begins.

We will use the hashtag #TWTBlog.