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Getting Started With Writing Workshop: Grades K–6

Writing workshop can be an invigorating, creative, empowering opportunity to encourage students to become confident, capable writers! Unlike some instructional writing approaches, writing workshop for elementary students involves different forms of active participation from everyone in the classroom to be a success! Read on to learn about the principles and practices of writing workshop.

Teacher and children in classroom

Just starting out?
Ready to establish a writing workshop in your classroom?
Looking for ways to reenergize your current workshop approach?

What Is Writing Workshop? is a great place to find basics around structure and pedagogy and learn what a successful writing classroom looks and sounds like.

Building Your Workshop Classroom can help you maximize your physical space to embrace the basics for writing workshop success. Resources include tips for teaching writing workshop remotely or in a hybrid setting.

Establishing Your K–6 Writing Community Through Workshop addresses the importance of fostering a sense of shared respect in your writing workshop classroom. Links to powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) resources can help you create a community where all voices are heard and every opinion is welcome.

What Is Writing Workshop?

Writing workshop is built on a student-centered framework of explicit instruction, independent writing time, and opportunities for teachers and students to reflect on their writing journey into different genres and forms.

Although curricula differ on daily execution, there are a few common elements to all writing workshop programs.

  • Three-part lesson plan
  • Sample texts for modeling/inspiration
  • Lots of time for writing and rewriting!

Are You Ready to Try Writing Workshop?

As with any curriculum, there are some things to consider when implementing writing workshop. What questions should you ask to get the most out of writing workshop experience?

Hear thought leaders address these common questions around writing
workshop and more in the resources below!

Building Your Elementary Workshop Classroom

The organization of your classroom plays an important role in setting your writing workshop up for success. An effective writing workshop session should last anywhere from 35–60 minutes—a sizable part of your daily instruction—so it’s worth the effort to create an environment that is conducive to writing!

To create an atmosphere of engagement, creativity, and motivation for your writing workshop, embrace a bit of flexibility when it comes to where students choose to do their work. Think how comfort aids concentration and can help to build stamina for students’ extended writing work.

Spaces for Conferring in K–6 Writing Workshop Classrooms

A successful writing workshop also includes a certain amount of friendly nudging in the form of conferring. As a teacher and key confer-er, consider what works best for you!

  • Do you prefer to have students come to your desk (or an established space) for 1:1 discussion?
  • Would you rather move around the classroom to “drop in” on students to provide feedback?

Once you’ve identified an approach and/or space, stick with it. Students benefit from clear expectations and routines; having established locations for specific parts of the daily lesson can be reassuring.

See Conferences and Conferring During Writing Workshop for specific resources around conferences.

You can generate positive expectations, routines, and relationships around writing workshop even if you’re not in the same physical space as your students. Check out tips for conducting writing workshop in remote and hybrid settings below.

Establishing Your Writing Community Through Workshop

In addition to configuring physical spaces for writing, conferring, and group work, you need to establish a sense of community for your students to feel comfortable during writing workshop.

Key areas for student participation in writing workshop:

  • Expressing thoughts
  • Sharing writing pieces
  • Providing feedback

The basic nature of a writing workshop classroom requires that students and teachers interact in ways that are mindful of self-awareness, social responsibility, and decision making. When you establish a writing workshop in your classroom, you can prepare your students not only to be better communicators but also better classmates!

SEL and Writing Workshop

Using techniques grounded in social-emotional learning (SEL) in your writing workshop classroom is a great way to incorporate mindfulness and build positive expectations and experiences.

The assets below provide thoughtful, actionable tips for applying SEL to writing workshop. Resources include a look at how SEL is integral to the design of Jump Into Writing!—Zaner-Bloser’s writing workshop curriculum for grades 2–5.

Superkids Schools Conference. 2021 Connect and Inspire.

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Would you like to share your thoughts on writing workshop? We’d love to hear from you!

  • Suggestions for resources to include or cite
  • Topics you’d like to see covered
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Interested in learning more about Jump Into Writing! writing workshop curriculum for grades 2–5?

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