back to school · family · olw · writing workshop

A Parent’s Guide To Writing Workshop

“Relationships” is the One Little Word (OLW) I chose for this new school year.  When you value a relationship, you take time to communicate, listen and respond with the best of intentions.  As I meet my new third graders, I will be carving out time for us to get to know each other and build positive relationships based on trust and respect.  I will also need to reach out to the families of my students, building relationships with them to become partners in their children’s education.

Back to School Night is the first chance I have to speak face to face with parents.  When it comes to writing workshop, what do I need the families to know? What misconceptions might they have that I can clear up? What resources and suggestions can I provide so they can help their child grow as a writer outside of school? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself. I’ve also asked friends who are parents of school-age children what they would want to know more about in regards to their child growing as a writer.  I’ve asked colleagues what they’ve noticed are top parent concerns when it comes to writing.

The parents who I heard from  commented on making writing more fun for the students and ideas for home practice.  One parent said there are so many ideas on helping young children become readers but not as much about writing.  Another parent discussed handwriting and how her child would get frustrated if letters were not formed perfectly.  The colleagues I spoke with shared that many times parents were upset that their children were misspelling words in their writing or not using conventions properly.  That has also been my experience: Parents are often worried that students are not learning to spell. They often focus on that as the most important component of their child’s writing.

With this information, and thinking about what I want parents to truly understand about writing workshop, I decided to create a Google Slides presentation to share with the parents at Open School Night.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 9.17.11 PM
If you want to share parts of this presentation with the families in your class, make a copy of the presentation and then feel free to edit and add items relevant to your class and school.

My goals were to explain the grade level expectations my district has for the students, describe how writing workshop helps students meet those goals, provide explanations for terms we commonly use when talking about writing workshop, address the concerns about spelling and conventions, and provide some ideas for supporting writers at home.  I created a Symbaloo with some additional writing resources for students and families.  I plan on posting the presentation on my class web page so families can refer to it whenever they like and families who were unable to attend Open School Night can access it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 2.17.19 PM
I created this Symbaloo to provide resources to encourage and support student writers.

The Open School Night presentation is the start of a ongoing conversation with families about student writing.  One way to continue the conversation is to send home a newsletter that will have some tips and ideas for ways to help students develop as writers.  I recently learned about SeeSaw, where students can independently document what they are learning and writing at school through pictures, audio and videos.  Families can receive an email of what the student has created and shared.  I envision students sending a writer’s notebook entry they are proud of or a draft of a piece where they tried a new craft move.  This tool can be helpful in flattening the walls of the classroom and allowing parents an insider’s view of what we are doing in writing workshop.

My class will be blogging through Kidblog and parents will be encouraged to read student blogs and comment on them.  My own blogging experience has helped me see the power of being part of a community of writers who read and comment on my writing.  I am hoping to invite more parents and families to be active members of our writing community and contribute to the conversation.  My class will be tweeting from @Learningin215 and it will be a rotating class job to compose our class tweet of the day to share our learning with a broader, more global community.  It is my hope that these experiences will provide ongoing information to families about all the learning happening in our classroom, including the writing.

How do you reach out to parents and communicate about writing workshop expectations, procedures, and goals? How do you share resources and ideas to support writers outside the classroom? Please share your ideas in the comments!

13 thoughts on “A Parent’s Guide To Writing Workshop

  1. Thank you Kathleen for sharing so many valuable resources and ideas in one post! I too teach 3rd grade and just created a class Twitter account. I love your idea of a classroom tweet coming from the students each day.
    Your thoughtful parent communication ideas are much appreciated.


  2. Teachers are so amazingly generous. Kathleen what a resource you have shared. Great ideas. Communication so helps build a bridge for parents who want to understand practices that may be so different than what they experienced as learners.


  3. Wow! I can’t believe it’s already almost Back to School Night! The year really has begun, hasn’t it. And you have clearly given it a lot of thought and preparation. Sounds like you are firing on all cylinders. From the responses of parents, however, they seem to be more focused on the mechanics of writing than the development of a a classroom writing community. Some will feel overwhelmed by your many endeavors. I would suggest that perhaps there be one simple thing each family could take turns doing, perhaps weekly…such as writing a “family diary” of how they spent a weekend, or what they do for fun together. This would help their participation feel less onerous, and give an equal chance to each family to participate. Some families may need your help in executing this, and THAT is where the bond may be forged!

    Good luck with your new class, your new year, your new endeavors. Your families are lucky to have you as their teacher!


  4. IF there’s time for parents to write, then let them write! (I know that’s hard on Back to School Night when there are so many priorities.) Dana has done some fantastic work with Family Writing Nights. Maybe you can host one later in the year for your students and their parents.

    BTW: I LOVE your classroom website. It’s beautiful, user-friendly, and informative. The perfect trio!


  5. I am very interested in blogging with my students this year. I have had my own personal blog in the past, but have never brought it into the classroom. After hearing about/researching Julie Ramsey’s work, I began to see the endless opportunities associated with blogging and other social media. I want parents to have access to students’ blogs, but I am concerned about students posting and other parents/individuals reading their posts. I’m wondering if parents would be concerned with this regarding privacy of their students’ “work.” Have you ran into this issue? Do you get parent permission before students blog and post? Do students have usernames rather than using their real names?
    Thank you so much for your help! Loved the post! Parents so often have misconceptions and concerns when it comes to writing instruction.


  6. This is such a timely post and chock-full of wonderful resources. Thank you so much for sharing your slide presentation–I plan to share it with my team today so we can think about how we might improve our communication about Writers’ Workshop on Curriculum Night. Thank you, thank you!


Comments are closed.