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Writing Workshop

Writing Workshop Round-Up

Writing, Writing Workshop
Blog header - picture of student writing and picture of Writing Workshop bins with the stages of writing.

Writing Workshop is a wonderful way to teach writing in your classroom. My favorite part about it is the focus is on kids actually writing and the majority of the lesson is focused on that. I’ve written a number of blog posts about how I set up Writing Workshop and I wanted to share them with you in one place!

Writing Workshop Blog Posts

  • Why Writing Workshop – This post explains some of the positive benefits of using the workshop model for writing in your classroom.
  • Set-Up – Set-up is made easier with these ideas and tips! Includes a few different ways you could set-up the materials for writer’s workshop in your classroom.
  • Format – The workshop has a very consistent format. Each workshop time includes: mini-lesson, time for kids to write, conferencing, and share.
  • Mini-Lessons – Ideas for different mini-lessons you could use during writer’s workshop. Also includes a FREE planning page.
  • Teaching Editing – Editing is easier for students with these ideas! Also see the FREE checklist for editing at the bottom of this post.
  • Publishing – This is always my students favorite part of the process! They love publishing their pieces and sharing them with the class.
  • Spotlight Bulletin Board – Check out this post to see how I spotlight student writing based on our specific mini-lesson skills.
  • Conference Schedule – Conferring with students is so much easier if you have a schedule to go by!

FREE Checklist

Picture of four writing checklists.

To make your life easier I have a FREE set of writing checklists for your students to use! These are geared towards the primary grades and include 8 different checklists – so you’ll be able to differentiate based on what you’re teaching and your students’ needs. Grab your writing checklists HERE.

Long pin for blog post. Includes picture of student writing.

Differentiation in Writing Workshop – Tip #10 – Student Created Goals

Writing Workshop

My last tip for differentiation in Writing Workshop has to do with goals – but this time – student created.

Lucy Calkin’s Units of Studies has specific lessons geared towards students coming up with their own goals.  There are checklists, mini-lesson ideas, etc.  You can do this without Units of Study too.  First, come up with a few areas that you have been focusing on. For example, sequencing, adding details, staying focused on a small moment, etc. Create a little checklist with those items on it.  Students will then take the checklist and their writing piece and work with a partner. They can read the story to each other and go through the checklist marking areas that they are doing well with and areas they need to work on. From there have each child pick one area that they want to focus on as their current writing goal.


Thank you so much for checking out my Differentiation in Writing Workshop blog series!  See below to catch up on past posts..


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…

Differentiation in Writing Workshop – Tip #9 – Student Conferencing

Writing Workshop

Conferencing with students is one of my favorite parts of Writing Workshop. It allows you a chance to meet with students one-on-one and really look at their writing and hear from them the writer.  Today’s tip is how I use this as a chance to differentiate…

Conferencing is one of the easier times to differentiate Writing Workshop. I have a schedule I use (see below) and call students back on their particular day. They bring the piece they are working on or one we looked at the last time we met and we look over it together.  This is a great chance to talk about student specific goals, see what goal the child wants to have, and talk about the positives you see in them as a writer.  These opportunities also show me areas where they can grow as writer, which often leads to us creating new goals.

Do you conference with students during writing?  If so, share your thoughts on it down in the comments.


Check back tomorrow for the final installment where I share about students creating their own goals to help differentiate Writing Workshop.


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…

Differentiation in Writing Workshop – Tip #8 – Strategy Cards

Writing Workshop

Today’s Writing Workshop Differentiation Tip is about providing your students with strategy cards that go along with the lesson.

If you use Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study, each mini-lesson has a main teaching point.  Even if you don’t use Units of Study, your writing lessons also have a main teaching point or takeaway for that day. As we know once the mini-lesson is finished and students are sent back to work on their writing, you always have those few kids that don’t remember what they are supposed to be working on. This is where strategy cards come in.

Strategy cards are task card size and can have the main teaching point written on them.   For example, “Authors focus on writing small moment stories about one event.”  Or – “Authors edit their pieces and check to make sure they use capitals and end marks in the right places.”  In addition to words, you could also add pictures or even a photo example of the writing focus. You can give it to students who you know will need a reminder or if they ask.  This way they have a constant reminder on their desk of what the teaching point is. You could also differentiate these and have different teaching points for different kids depending on their goals.


Check back Thursday for a few tips for differentiating during individual writing conferences.


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…

Differentiation in WW – Tip #7 – Anchor Charts

Writing Workshop

Another easy way to differentiate during Writing Workshop is Anchor Charts.  I love using Anchor Charts in the classroom for all subjects…including Writing Workshop.

Anchor charts are charts created with the class and left up for them to refer back to.  As I differentiate my lessons based on my student’s needs, I create anchor charts to go along with those lessons.  If we are working on when to capitalize – we’ll create an anchor for that. If we are working how to organize our writing, we’ll create a chart for that.  The great part about these is they are available for the kids to look at the rest of the year. Once I create a chart it hangs on our wall and students are able to go look at it, flip through them, etc. This can help kiddos who need reminders or might need to review a past skill.  You could also take a picture of your anchor charts and put those pictures into binders for your students to refer back to.


Stay tuned…on Monday I’ll be sharing about Strategy Cards as a tool for differentiation!


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…

Differentiation in WW – Tip #6 – Editing Checklists

Writing Workshop

Today I’m sharing with you some ways you can differentiate during Writing Workshop using editing checklists.

Editing is always a part of the writing process no matter what program you use.  To help students through the editing process, I like to provide them with an editing checklist.  This helps remind them of what they should be looking for and focused on.  I change this up throughout the school year.  In Trimester 1, I have a few items on there, but as we continue through the school year and learn different skills the list grows.

Trimester 1 Editing Checklist

Trimester 2 Editing Checklist

Checklists can also be differentiated.  You could make checklists based on certain goals or skills a child is working on. You could create a picture type checklist for students who struggle with reading.  You could create a more challenging checklist with higher level skills on it for students who are ready for a challenge.  You don’t have to use the same checklist for everyone.

In Lucy Calkin’s Units of Studies, she provides checklist options.  I have given some students who needed more assistance the checklist from the grade level below because it met their needs.  I’ve also given some children the checklist from the grade above because they were ready for those skills.  Checklists don’t have to be one size fits all!

Thanks for checking out my post on differentiating checklists.  On Thursday I will be sharing differentiation ideas with class anchor charts.


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…


Differentiation in WW – Tip #5 – Word Walls

Writing Workshop

Today I’m back to share my fifth tip for differentiating during Writing Workshop. Today’s tip is all about word walls!

I currently teach first grade and have also taught second for many years.  As we know these ages are still learning how to spell and some kids can get very caught up on spelling things correctly in their writing. One of the things I love is training kids to spell things the best they can.  Inventive spelling is amazing!  Now that being said there are some words that kid will frequently use in their writing or words that they can’t sound out.  This is where the word wall comes in handy.

Now I’ve seen word walls done many different ways. Some teachers create a bulletin on their wall, some create a page at their table or in their folder, and some use portable word walls. I love the portable word wall! I’ve been using one for the last 2 years. It takes up less space and it’s easy to add words.  The nice thing is this can be differentiated for my specific class.  I will often put student names in there (as kids like to write about their friends), teachers at the school, special places where we live, and more.  This can also be differentiated depending on your grade and student needs. If you have a high number of ELL students, you could differentiate by also adding pictures to your word wall words.

Here are a few pictures of what my portable word wall looks like:


Check back on Monday!  I’ll be sharing ideas for differentiating editing checklists!


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…




Differentiation in WW – Tip #4 – Mid-Workshop Interruption

Writing Workshop

Today I’m sharing my fourth tip for differentiation during Writing Workshop.  The Writing Workshop model is set-up as such – mini-lesson, time to write and confer, mid-workshop interruption, and sharing.  The mid-workshop interruption provides another opportunity for differentiation for your class.

Mid-workshop interruption is where you interrupt your writers about halfway through their writing time to make a suggestion or share a tip/reminder.   If you have the Units of Studies book, Lucy provides ideas for the mid-workshop interruption.  If you don’t have it, you can create your own.  Often I will reiterate the point of that days lesson, but I also will differentiate and share a tip or suggestion based on something I notice when I’m conferring that day.  Again this is one more quick way to differentiate Writing Workshop to meet the needs of your class.  I might use the interruption to remind students to re-read their writing for clarity, add details, or make sure they are staying focused on their topic or small moment.


Today’s tip was super quick. Check back on Thursday for a tip about differentiating with a word wall.


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…

Differentiation in WW – Tip #3 – Paper and Topic Choice

Writing Workshop

Today for my differentiation in Writing Workshop tip I am talking all about choice!  Writing Workshop provides lots of opportunities for choice which is a part of differentiation.

Paper choice is one part of Writing Workshop.  I always provide multiple paper book formats so students can choose which one they want to use.  I choose different paper formats and within that variety there are some with opportunities to draw more and/or write more.  Then kids can choose a paper/booklet they feel comfortable using.  For students who are ready to write more, they can choose the paper with all lines or more room for writing. For a student who is struggling, they might choose a paper with less lines and more room to sketch their picture.

Topic choice is another part of Writing Workshop. I love that the kids get to choose what they write about.  There is a time and place for writing prompts, but during Writing Workshop they pick the topic.  During narratives, they can write about events in their life.  During informational writing, they can write lab reports about experiments they have done or reports about topics they are interested in and that they picked to research.  For opinion writing, they can pick topics they want to share their opinion about.  Students are more engaged when they are writing about something they are interested in!


Thanks for checking out my tips today.  On Monday I’ll share my differentiation tip for the mid-workshop interruption.


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…


Differentiation in WW – Tip #2 – Mini-Lessons

Writing Workshop

Today’s post is all about mini-lessons.  One way to differentiate Writing Workshop for you class is tailored mini-lessons.

If you have Lucy Calkin’s Unit of Studies her books have mini-lessons to take you through each type of writing.  She also has a book called If…Then… that also has great mini-lesson ideas that you can use when you notice your students may need practice with certain skills.

If you do not have Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study, you can still differentiate with your mini-lessons. If you remember in my last post, I was talking about getting a writing sample as a pre-test.  From this writing sample you will be able to see what your students excel at and what they need to work on as a writer.  From the list of things they need to work on, you can create your own mini-lessons.

If I notice my students are struggling with word choice, I will do a mini-lesson where we practice adding descriptive words to a sentence.

If I notice the class struggling with capitalization, I will have them help me edit a piece (with lots of mistakes focused on capitalization).  If I notice that we need to work on adding details, I will have a mini-lesson focused on that.  For more mini-lesson ideas, check out my blog post about mini-lessons >>>here.

These differentiated mini-lessons can also be done in a small group.  From the student writing sample and observation you might have a few kids who need to work on a specific skill. Instead of doing a targeted mini-lesson whole group, you could pull them for a quick small group mini-lesson working on the specific skill they need help with.


On Thursday I will be sharing my next differentiation tip focused on paper and topic choices.


If you missed my past tips from the Differentiation in Writing Workshop series, click below…