Help! Writer's Workshop = Writer's Flopshop!

Brilliant teacher friends, I need your help and wisdom.


My writer's workshop stinks.

Instead of looking like this:

It looks like this:

Okay, well maybe it's not THAT bad...

I've made a little 'Looks like'/'Sounds like' chart.  I've modeled.  I've rehearsed. I've done all the right things, and I just can't seem to get it all figured out.

What's a girl to do?

I guess I just don't know what I want.  I love talking for processing, but I also need quiet to concentrate.  I don't want talkers to disrupt non-talkers.  Talking sometimes many times leads to second grade conversations about popsicles and other off-topic things.
But if they don't talk, how do they work together and help each other?

Conferencing. Yeah. And that too.

I want to create the same urgency and buzzing that I have during The Daily 5, but I just can't seem to make that happen.

Our school did a book study on Lucy Calkins last year, and we've moved away from the typical 'Writing Stages' organization where the students are on different parts of the process. There are some really wonderful things about that, but organization-wise, I'm really struggling.

I know you're out there! Someone has some great methods for a functioning, buzzing, amazing writer's workshop. Can you help me?

PS: I lack a good PS today.  I'm too worried about my flopshop!


  1. Your images are so cute! They made me laugh! I am a writing teacher and it took me some time, but, I can honestly say that I am satisfied with my writer's workshop. It takes a lot of practice and modeling, though, to get the children to perform the way I want them to. I do a short mini-lesson and then send them back to their seats for the workshop, where they practice what I've taught them. The first 10 minutes of their workshop is called the Quiet 10. No one is allowed to speak. They think, write and/or draw during this time. The 10 minutes of silence helps them get a good start. Once the 10 minutes is up, they can collaborate for the rest of the workshop, while I conference. Anyone who talks loud enough for me to pick out their voice over anyone else's, is then on silence for the rest of the workshop and must sit alone. Boring!! It's a great incentive to get them to stay productive, yet collaborate with each other.

    If you have anymore questions or need any advice, please email me. You'll get to your happy place. Remember, lots of modeling and complimenting and, bribing, if necessary!

    Ѽ Lori
    Teaching With Love and Laughter

  2. Have you tried applying the same strategies you used for Daily 5 into your writers workshop? For example, maybe you can have the students work on building their stamina for writing. Maybe you could make another chart that shows what the students are doing and what the teacher is doing. Go over the importance of writer's workshop. You can even have students volunteer to demonstrate the "right way" and "wrong way" of how to work during writer's workshop. Praise, praise, praise the students who are doing a really great job at writing and staying focused. You can even allow those students to share their writing at the end of the workshop. I also do something similar to Lori where the students are quiet for 10 minutes or so. After that, I allow them a few minutes to get with a partner or small group and share. Then, I have them continue writing quietly. This little break helps and gives the students time to collaborate. I also would not recommend conferring with any students until you have all the students doing what they're supposed to. Then, slowly start conferencing with a couple students a day. Although I'm sure you're ready to get started with writers workshop, it will be a more valuable time if you have the management down. I've been trying to do writer's workshop for the past 4 years and I still don't think I have it all figured out!

    The REAL Teachers of Orange County

  3. Kate, I also struggle with Writer's Workshop. I teach Lucy but still leave our writing process posted with an explanation for what their job is in each stage. This way they can keep going without me. I love the heading of this post. If you ever get your class together with writer's workshop I would love to read a post about it, I could definitely use some help.

    Second Grade Math Maniac: Pencil Sharpener Giveaway!

  4. I've been teaching for over 20 years and still find the beginning of writer's workshop challenging. All the advice above is great! Not much I can add ... keep modelling and it will come together :)
    Grade ONEderful

  5. I've taught writer's workshop for 18 years and it's my favorite time of day (and the same for most of my students). You have to start slow. They might only be able to write for 5-l7 minutes the first few days of school. Watch to see and like Daily 5-when the first student gets off task, gather for a discussion on the rug, then let them go back, reread their writing and write for a few more minutes. Gradually increase the time over a week and before you know it, they will all be writing and you will be conferring. This week I am implementing talking before writing (for the last 3 weeks, they have all had to reread their text from the previous day, make any corrections with their magic pen and then think quietly before they write. Now, I want them to reread their text and talk to a writing buddy about their writing plans for the day. I find it so valuable for kids to discuss their intentions and then do it. It will be a bit noisy at first, but once they all have a chance to chat, they will settle right in to their writing.

  6. I start s-l-o-w-l-y..painfully slowly. I model until I hear myself in my dreams. Tweak from year to year. I also have them write until I see them get off task. Their writing stamina needs to build up. I also ask them for feedback. What can I do to make it better? Have plenty of resources available (word wall, dictionaries, anchor charts...) All the time you put in in the beginning will pay off soon! Start conferences with the ones that are 'ready' and compliment everything they do well.
    My Second Sense


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