Here are my notes from The Writing Workshop by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi.

  1. Most kids experience schools as a series of tasks, dittos, assignments, tests–things that are administered to them. Writing workshop turns the table and puts kids in charge…engage in responsive teaching rather than relying on present lesson plans.
  2. Writing workshop puts kids on the spot and makes them responsible for their learning.
  3. “Flow”: optimal learning condition for human beings according to Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is when an individual enters a “flow zone” in which s/he loses track of time and becomes totally engaged in the task…Create conditions that allow students to occupy the zone when they can work/play with language, and learn as they do it.
  4. Students need to have frequent, predictable time set aside for them to write. Minimum of 3 days, 1 hour each. 4-5 days is better.
  5. Conditions:
    1. Student choice is prevalent.
    2. Students decide when a piece of writing is finished.
    3. Students set their own agenda and pace.
  6. While teachers may determine what gets taught, only the student can decide what will be learned.
  7. Components of Writing Workshop:
    1. 5-10 minute minilesson
    2. 35-45 minutes of writing time
    3. 10-20 minutes of share time
  8. Time:
    Component #1: MiniLesson – Various categories of a minilesson include the following: Procedural, Writers’ Process, Qualities of good writing, and Editing Skills
    Component #2: Writing Time – Students work on writing projects they have set out for themselves. Rough drafting, planning, re-reading, proofreading, conferring with other students. Teachers confer with students.
    Component #3: Sharing Time
    Share sessions direct students to act in ways that will help them when they are conferring one-on-one with peers.
  9. Space: 
    1. A Meeting place
    2. Place for materials/tools
    3. Carefully arranged desks or tables.
  10. Short-term goals for writing workshops
    1. Getting students to have writing time
    2. Establishing a safe environment so that kids can take risks in their writing
    3. Setting up a workable management system to handle the flow of paper, folders and so forth.
  11. “Choice leads to voice” John Pouton
  12. Safe Environment
    1. Give specific praise
    2. Let primary children draw
    3. Read aloud “from the heart” pieces of writing
    4. Use a Writer’s Notebook
    5. Write with your student
  13. Workable Classroom Management
    1. Finished Box: acknowledges people finish work at different times, asks teachers to review writing piece.
    2. Unfinished writing folder:
      1. Color coded by group/table
      2. Personalized list of writing ideas
      3. Topics to Write about….
        1. I’m an expert at…
        2. Things I will always Remember
        3. Topics I feel deeply about
        4. Kinds of Writing i would like to try

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