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Writing Workshop: Managing the writing classroom

One format that teachers utilize to teach writing is called Writing Workshop or Writer's Workshop. Often a 60-minute block is set aside (although this can be adapted to be shorter or longer) and broken into the following time slots:

15-20 minutes: Whole-class mini-lesson

30-40 minutes: Small group and individual work

Use any combination of the following:

  • Independent writing
  • Paired writing
  • Conferring with students
  • Guided writing lessons
  • Peer editing and/or peer revision
  • Literacy centers
  • Seatwork

5-10 minutes: Group share

Questions to think about:

  • What are the advantages to using this format? The disadvantages?
  • If you are using a writing book or curriculum, could this format be modified to meet your needs or could the lessons and activities from the fixed curriculum fit into this format?
  • What element(s) would you be willing to try right away? How could you work that into your daily schedule?
  • Could you try this format for a genre study? What might that look like?

Books to help you learn even more about writing workshop:

Atwell, N. (1989). In the middle: Writing, reading and learning with adolescents. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

Atwell, N., ed. (2002). Lessons that change writers. Portsmouth, NH: FirstHand Heinemann.

Fletcher, R., & Portalupi, J. (2001). Writing workshop: The essential guide. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Fountas, I.C., & Pinnell, G.S. (2001). Guiding readers and writers grades 3-6: Teaching comprehension, genre, and content literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Graves, D.H. (1994). A fresh look at writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Ray, K.W., & Laminack, L.L. (2001). The writing workshop: Working through the hard parts (and they're all hard parts). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.