October is here! We’ve been in school for just about a month now, and our writing workshop has moved from its early stages of uncertainty and experimentation to let’s-get-down-to-it writing routines. When I look back at our first month of writing workshop, I see the foundation for the year ahead, I see that we have:
Learned and internalized workshop routines: the meeting area,community, our daily agenda.
Some time ago, Beth wrote a wonderful piece about the importance of meeting areas , in which she said, “a comfortable meeting area fosters a supportive community in your classroom.” Learning to transition to and from the meeting idea takes time, patience, and more than a little bit of being flexible about the use of space in our classroom and a willingness to move desks out of the way when needed. It took a LOT of practice before my sixth graders learned not to stampede over each other to grab the best spot in the meeting area; now, we move smoothly and settle in with purpose. Yesterday, I took a moment to enjoy our writing circles in which we gather to share our work, and celebrated how we’ve come together as a supportive writing community already. Writers help each other grow and thrive.
But, the heart of our writing workshop remains the external structure of it, the predictable routines we follow day in and day out, each of us knowing exactly how we begin and what comes next. Anna’s post about this is like teacher’s gold; “One of the many beautiful aspects of writing workshops is just that,” she wrote, “its predictable structure. Each day, the same thing happens.” This chart hangs on our wall for reference, but I love the fact that my kids don’t need it at all, they live it already.
Learned the purpose and pleasure of our writer’s notebooks:
We’ve spent this month sowing the seeds for future writing, and learning to use our notebooks to write about what’s in our hearts and minds. We’ve sketched , listed, and written, and we’ve learned how to think of our notebooks as a writing toolbox filled with ideas and strategies. Our notebooks look pretty on the outside, but we’ve learned to treasure, use, and nurture what’s inside, too.
Learned that writers need to work smart and be organized so that we make the most of our writing time.
As we began drafting our first “going to be published” piece, we organized our writing folders so that it made “writing sense” – a place for everything:
Learned how to notice and name writing moves:
With each mentor text and mini lesson, we’ve learned how to dig into beautiful writing and analyze the author’s careful intentionality. More than that, we are learning how to refer to these mentor texts as we write – to experiment with, practice, and learn how to make these moves ourselves. Our mentor texts sit side by side with our writing pads, leading us to beautiful writing.
September has been a busy month, our writing workshop is finally under way!
I teach Writing Workshop, Language Arts and Social Studies to sixth graders at a middle school in suburban New Jersey. This blog is my attempt to capture all the "stuff" that goes into my teaching life - the planning, the dreaming, the reading, the preparing, the hoping and (above all) the kids.
Please note that the content of this blog is my own. It does not reflect the opinions of my employer.