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What is writing workshop? Creating shared agreement and common expectations about instruction

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In any given school setting, there can be a broad range of experiences and comfort with writing instruction. It is important to establish shared agreement about the topic, creating a common definition about writing workshop, and about best practice in writing instruction.

 For teachers of young children sometimes, there is confusion between practicing handwriting and practicing writing. To clarify:

  • Handwriting refers to letter formation- a small motor skill.  It is the act of learning to write the letters of the alphabet.  It may involve writing letters in a salt tray, using manipulatives to form a letter, writing a name, or doing traditional handwriting pages.

  • Writing is the act of communicating an idea so that others understand your message- a cognitive skill.  It may surprise you to learn that writing does not always involve handwriting.


Defining writing workshop:

  1.  Use text rendering protocol to review and discuss the Glossary of Terms and Writing Process in Detail. You may want to chart key ideas or terms that need further clarification.
  2. View the video (4:46) at model of writing workshop in second grade classroom.
  3. Listen to podcast by Ralph Fletcher (14:08) adding any additional ideas or terms to the chart.
  4.  Finally use text rendering protocol to review and discuss the Rubric for Writing Instruction. 


Optional:  Teachers can use rubric as self-assessment.  Share results with grade level partners, or mixed grade teams. Use results to set two professional goals. 

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These tools were created as part of the Literacy Improvement in Rural Education through Collaboration (LIREC) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education