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Writing Workshop Take 2

October 28, 2015

Let me begin by responding to the comments I got from my last post on Writing Workshop.  Thank you each so much for adding to the discussing and getting me to think in new ways about how I can improve my WW.

Sarah – Peer review is a great idea.  I didn’t have them do it for this assignment, but I will keep it in mind in the future.  In fact, I plan on having students peer review their final drafts once they are done making their edits.

KLA – Thanks so much for posting and giving me another perspective on how typing for the students can be helpful.  Your post got me thinking about how I could help the students to type while still giving them the opportunity to learn and I came up with this idea that I’m going to try today.  I’m will ask students to bring up their computers when we review their comments and their writing so that we both have the opportunity to type/edit their google doc.  In answer to your question about the length – that’s a good thought.  I’m usually trying to get my students to write more that I don’t often think of the value of writing less.   I’m going to do that in future assignments.  Any other great ideas?

Martha – Can’t thank you enough for the time, thought, and effort you put into your reply.  First, I really like the statements you wrote on how I can better speak to students.  I so often worry about saying or typing something that will kill my student’s creative fire.  Your questions are fabulous because they are nonjudgemental and initiate a conversation that can lead to fruitful discussion,  I would be very interested in hearing more of your questions/conversation starters and would absolutely love it if you would write your favorite 10 questions/comments you write or say to students) in the comment section below  (see – I want you to write more!.

I loved your suggestion to have students write a summary of my feedback.  Great idea!  For this assignment, as you will see when you read my checklist, I had students write questions using the google docs comment feature with the hope of helping them to better learn how to use this valuable tool.  I also stole your idea of asking them to highlight their favorite sentence, and I’m going to take this idea a step further in the future by cutting and pasting their sentences into a google doc and showing them to the whole class.  Then they could write about why the sentences are so good.  A little metacognition never hurt anyone, right?   Finally, I like the idea of blogging to get them to thinking deeply about a subject while writing in an informal fashion.  I added that idea to my lesson plans for the future.  It also sparked an idea of having them read my own blog (might have to think that one though) as a way of showing them my own writing, which is laborious but fruitful for me) to inspire and model it for them.

Today is writing workshop, and I’m planning on meeting with students in 5 minute blocks while they work on editing an assignment they have worked on earlier in the month.  I agree with you Martha about the need to do multiple drafts, so I have had students complete the following steps: create a graphic organizer, brainstorm independently and with the help of a fellow student, write a rough draft in their writing notebook manually (I think there are some benefits to writing by hand as opposed to typing – any thoughts on this?), typing a 2nd draft, which I edit).

So, today, here is what I’m going to do differently.  

  1. Have them bring up their computers so we can edit together.
  2. Have them come to me with something they would like to work on.  Last night, part of their homework was to email and suggest a skill they would like to learn more about.  I will spend part of my five minutes talking with them about how to improve this aspect of their writing.
  3. Set a 5 minute timer because I tend to spend too much time, which helps some students while limiting my  time with others.  I’m hoping the structure helps me help more students.
  4. Keep a record of what we talk about (my focus, their focus, as well as any other info).
  5. Use a checklist to keep them on task and focused
  6. Keep a tally of the changes they make while editing their work.  I’m hoping that providing a list of things to look out for and having them keep track, both they and I will have something to use in the future to focus our writing workshop time.  Here’s my list – feel free to suggest others.

Keep a tally


punctuation (,.’!”)


eliminate repetition

stronger word (


delete redundate words

Peer editing when done editing their own work


Please let me know what else I can do and thanks for reading.


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