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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.

Football Room Transformation

Math, Reading, Writing

So today I am super excited to share with you my room transformation that I did a few weeks ago.  For my first room transformation this year I decided to do a football theme. What started out as just a transformation for a math review turned into why not make the whole day football themed! Go big or go home – right?? So this room transformation took on a life of it’s own and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!  In this blog post I’ll take you through the decorations and different events of the day.  I had a blast and my kids had a blast! It was probably one of the best days we’ve had this school year so far.


Room Transformation Info:

For the room transformation I got items from Amazon, Party City, and we made many of them too.  The football backdrop and football runner were from Party City. My ref shirt came from Amazon. I printed and made the football logos.  My teaching aide made the tablecloths with a football stamp and the other football signs.  The decorations definitely helped set the mood!

Each child had their picture taken in front of the backdrop. The posed with the football. I so wish I could show you the pictures because some of them took it rather seriously!


If I Were a Football Player Page:

During morning meeting, which I called a team meeting, we discussed some of the questions on the page above. Students then got to create their football name, pick their number, decide the team name, mascot, etc.  They had fun being creative and coming up with some interesting mascots and names!


Jersey Design:

Next students got to design their own jerseys. I showed them a few examples of real NFL and college jerseys and then they got to work. They used their team colors and number on the jersey. The t-shirt page was from Heather Toomey.


Football Math Review Game:

When students came back from PE I had the game set-up for them. I used a long football yard-line table runner on the floor and that was how we showed we each team earned a point (10 yards) for each correct question. When they came in the room I had the Sunday Night Football song playing to get them pumped up and ready!

I broke the class up into two teams for the math review game. Each team had a designated “captain” who came forward for the coin toss. Another teacher happened to stop by so she became our NFL commissioner and actually tossed the coin for us!  Heads won and off we went!

The review game included some of the questions above. This unit in math covered items such as: combos of 10, counting and adding on, solving word problems, identifying and labeling numbers.  Teams worked together to figure out the answer and a different child gave the answer each time to make sure everyone was included. Each time they got an answer correct they earned 10 yards. I planned it ahead of time so that each team would end up with the same points so we had no hurt feelings.  At the end of the game, each team added up all of their tens to see who won! Since each team won, each player got a football bracelet from Party City that had sports sayings on it.


Football Math Stations:

To continue reviewing for out test we also completed math stations with activities practicing the different skills.  The football popcorn holders held the activities and these were from Party City. Each group rotated to each station as you can see below.


This activity was completed with my teaching aide. She would give the kids a number and they would fill it in on the ten frame. Then she would ask further questions like how  many more would you need to make 10.

This tens frame Around the Room activity I got on TPT from Resource Ranch. Students would add the two numbers together and record their answer on the recording sheet.

Students worked on football story problems when they came to my station. I created similar problems but differentiated the numbers to meet the different levels in my classroom.

Students worked on ordering numbers at this station. There were baggies with ten numbers in it and the kids had to put them in order from least to greatest.  The football numbers are from Teacher Trish.

At this station students played Memory with the football cards.  This was a great way to practice combos of 10!



During reading we read and discussed the story Football Dinosaurs.  Then, during snack we watched the Tiki Barber story on Tumble Books.



To tie in writing, students wrote their opinion about their favorite sport. We brainstormed all the different kinds of sports and students picked one to write about. They also had to give a reason for their choice.  This page is from The Simplified Classroom.



All in all this one was of my favorite teaching days ever! We had so much fun and was I tired at the end of the day!  You exert so much energy during days like this that I had no trouble going to sleep that night!


Stay tuned…I have another room transformation coming in a few weeks! Be sure to follow me on Instagram to stay up to speed with all of the latest in my classroom!



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 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…


Differentiation in WW – Tip #1 – Writing Pre-Test

Uncategorized, Writing Workshop

I am so excited to be sharing my first differentiation for Writing Workshop tip with you today.  If you missed my intro to this new blog series click here >>> Introduction.

So before you can actually differentiate for each child in your class, you need to know where they are as a writer.  You need to know their strengths and things that they can work on.  One way to quickly figure this out is by giving them a writing pre-test.

If you use Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study, she has pre-test ideas in the Writing Pathways book.  She calls them On-Demand Performance Assessments.  If you don’t have the Units of Study, you can still have your students complete a writing sample/pre-test.  At the beginning of the year, I have my students write about themselves on the page below.

From this writing sample, I can learn a lot about each student.  For example…

  • Do they use complete sentences?
  • Am I able to read their spelling and inventive spelling?
  • Are they able to stay on topic?
  • Do they use capitals and end marks correctly?
  • How is their handwriting?
  • Do they add details?

Those are just a few questions I can typically answer by looking at this writing piece.  Now – this helps me differentiate for students because from this I am able to make individual goals for each student.  Some students might need to work on adding details to their writing pieces while others might need to focus on conventions. To be able to differentiate it’s important to know where you students are.  It’s also important to have a sample from the beginning of the year so you can see the growth and progress they make by the end of the year.

Stay tuned….on Monday I will be sharing Tip #2.  I will be talking about differentiating with mini-lessons.