That pretty much sums it up! You start with a mini-lesson about whatever you are working on in writing. This can be guided by the standards that you're working through and the curriculum you have. We don't really have a writing curriculum in our district, so I mostly make stuff up based on the standards and what I see the kids need. See my post on dictation ( http://applesofyoureye.blogspot.com/2012/09/dictation-dictado.html ) for more on how to focus in on what your kids need practice with on writing. You can use this 5-15 minutes for any mini-lesson your students need. Your students can take notes on what you taught them/copy down information from your mini lesson, draw the graphic organizer you used, etc, in the Writing Notes of their Writer's Notebooks, like this:
I also conference with every one of my students about every other month. After each work sample they do (as in a formal writing piece to a prompt or theme that they have not had outside help with), I grade them according to the 6 writing traits. Then, I meet with each student individually and discuss all the greatness in their writing. Next, I tell them a few things that they can work on, and they choose one of them to be their writing goal, and they record it in their Writing Goals section of their Writer's Notebook. They take a tiny sticky note and write their name on the front of it. On the back, they write their new writing goal. Then, they stick that goal to the writing trait that it falls under (like, "split writing into paragraphs with one main idea" would go under Organization). Until next month when we meet again, they will work on that goal. I usually have them tell someone else their goal, write it on a slip of paper to take home, read it to themselves with a whisper phone, etc about once a week to keep it fresh in their minds. The next time we meet, we see how they're doing with that goal; if they've got that one, we set a new one. Here are some examples of writing goals:
All that being said, I usually don't have a full hour of Writer's Workshop every day. Because I incorporate writing throughout the subject areas and do dictado, I simply don't have enough hours in the school day to fit in a full 60 minute Writer's Workshop time too. My writing time is usually about 30-40 minutes. I do a 5-10 minute lesson, 20-30 minute independent writing/conferencing time, and then a 5-10 minute share time. I don't think workshops, writing, math, reading, or otherwise, should be inflexible molds that are followed to a T. You know your students and what they need. You get to decide how to best meet their needs. Writer's Workshop is just an awesome way to organize your writing time, to help your students become better writers, and to ENJOY writing! That's why I've been using it ever since I found out about it around six years ago. My students love it, and I do too.
Questions? What isn't working in your writing time? What's going well? Leave a comment to let me know what future blogs you'd like to see too. Happy Writing!