Management of Writing Workshop A successful writing classroom depends on a classroom climate that encourages students to take risks without fear of failure and on clearly established routines and procedures that enable students to work successfully, deliberately, and independently. The organization of the writing classroom must support the essential conditions for an effective writing workshop, in particular choice, time and response. In the workshop model, students often choose their writing topics, have extended time to work independently and receive extensive response to their work from peers and teacher. (Kaufman) These conditions require organizational and management practices that facilitate student movement, student discussion, quiet writing time, and student independence. Teachers must attend to both organization and classroom procedures. Space must be carefully organized in order for students to navigate with ease. The space in the writing classroom should include a meeting place large enough for minilessons and whole class response sessions, a place for tools and materials, and carefully arranged desks or tables. At times, the teacher will pull students away from their desks to come together in the meeting place for instruction, a read aloud, or sharing. Much of the time in the writing classroom students are engaged in actual writing, and they need to be comfortable while writing--at their desks or in other spaces around the room. Table arrangements should encourage student talk, and the teacher must decide where to hold one-to-one conferences. Ideally, teachers move to the students to avoid a “line-up” of students waiting to conference. The walls in the writing classroom are also part of the environment--they can be used to reinforce aspects of writing process, classroom procedures, how students can get help from their peers. These physical reminders “free the teacher from being the only source of information.” The walls should also display student writing and author quotes-enabling students to “read” the room, as an important source of instruction. Materials in the writing classroom should be stored and organized so that students can access and return materials with ease and independence. Materials may include: Paper, pencils, notebooks, computers for drafting Folders for storing work Scissors, tape, staplers for publishing Dictionaries, thesauri, word lists, check lists, colored pens for editing Time in the writing classroom should be used flexibly, with most of it devoted to actual student writing. Students need opportunities to apply the lessons demonstrated and practiced in the minilesson. Each teacher must strike a balance between teaching to support the grade level writing standards and the needs of students. Daily writing workshop should have the following suggested time frames: Demonstration/mini lesson based on student needs/interests/curriculum requirements Sustained writing Whole class share 5-15 minutes 20-40 minutes 10-15 minutes An important component of managing the writing classroom is teaching students how to use the structures of writing workshop with independence and efficiency. “They need to learn how to exploit the expanded opportunities for inquiry and independent thought offered by the classroom setup. Good literacy learning requires their internalizations of logistics and procedures. Students need to learn how to move.” Kaufman Students must be explicitly taught every procedure in the writing workshop: how to move around the classroom, how to access and store materials, how and where to store their work, how to set up and use writing notebooks, how to confer with a peer, how to present or publish finished work. These procedures and behavioral expectations should be taught just like the elements of writing craft or process-- through modeling and guided practice: if the teacher expects students to work quietly when writing, then he/she must model for the classroom what working quietly looks and sounds like and support students as they move through guided experiences to independent practice. Routman Learning to navigate in writing workshop is critical at the start of the school year. Teachers will spend as much time teaching organization and procedures at the beginning of the year as they do teaching aspects of writing process or craft. Kaufman suggests the following key organizational principles for management of writing workshop: The teacher must organize the classroom proactively before the year begins--so that every resource, tool, and product has a specific home and a clear procedure for access and storage. The rules and/or procedures established by the teacher and students must promote the ability of students to exploit new freedoms of choice and time--promoting and channeling motion rather than inhibiting it. Organizational frameworks, logistics and procedures must be taught, reviewed, and practiced intensively at the beginning of the year until students internalize them to the point of practicing them independently. The organizational framework and procedures require periodic upkeep, as some lessons previously learned may be disregarded as the school year goes on. By spelling out expectations on a consistent basis, classrooms may continue to operate smoothly. Many resources are available for teachers which describe specific management techniques for writing workshop and for collecting and sharing student writing. A resource list is included in this guide. Fletcher also has a helpful chapter on management problems that might crop up: i.e. when kids use in appropriate language, when kids finish pieces too quickly, when kids don’t finish what they start when you’re overwhelmed by student conferences, when workshop energy runs low, and more. (Writing Workshop, Chapter 10) Citations: Doug Kaufman, Organizing and Managing the Language Arts Workshop; Regie Routman, Writing Essentials; and Ralph Fletcher, Writing Workshop.