Monique Poldberg contributes this #blog4nwp post.
This is what has happened in my classroom relative to Writing Workshop after my Inquiry Group work last summer at my NWP institute!
I have 22 second graders, mostly 7-year-olds. At the beginning of the year, I gave them each a three ring notebook and set up a shelf space where those notebooks could be stored, along with a variety of writing paper including 3 hole notebook paper, art paper, stapler, dictionary, thesaurus, pencils, etc. Then as I had writing lessons, we would “store” them in their notebooks. When they were done with the “assignment of the day/week” I just told them they could write whatever they wanted to write about to finish out the time allotted.
Now, this whole thing has totally evolved into them begging me to “do writers workshop!” If we have a mere 5 minutes of down-time, THAT is what they ask to do! It is totally amazing. They LOVE having choice, they love the opportunity to work with a partner. It is just amazing to see how they morph some other ‘content’ lesson into a book that they are writing. They love to write. ALL of them. If I have a block of time in my planbook that is ‘open’ or if something comes up where I need to pay attention to just one or two children (like solving a conflict from recess time!) I can just tell the rest of the class that they get to do writing workshop! They pump both arms in the air and cheer! It could self-manage itself for well over an hour! I think it has everything to do with setting the stage, giving them tools, giving it importance and giving them choice.
In reality, I have lots of details that I still need to work on to make it be a ‘model program’, like how to manage conferencing with each of them in a timely manner, but that will evolve. For now, I am super pleased with what has happened and I think I have students that consider themselves WRITERS!!