Saturday, July 13, 2019

#CyberPD Welcome to Writing Workshop Engaging Today's Students with a Model That Works

I am excited to be joining the #cyberPD community in reading and discussing  Welcome to Writing Workshop by Stacey Shubitz and Lynne R. Dorfman.  Please join us, more information can be found here. Thank you to the #CyberPD founders for this opportunity.

"We would never expect a professional athlete to become better without time for practice with a coach.  We would never expect a violinist to become a virtuoso without practice and instruction. Yet for many of us, the most precious commodity in our classrooms is time.  We never have enough."
                                            M. Colleen Cruz , Unstoppable Writing Teacher 

The Most Precious Commodity:
The responsibilities of an elementary classroom teacher are numerous. Creating a schedule that allows time to teach and time for the students to explore is a continuous loop of imperfect balances.  As a classroom teacher I fought to keep the demands and frustrations from consuming me.
When I am designing schedules, lessons, or making decisions for my classroom or collaborating with a teacher as an ed tech coach I lean on my belief statements.These statements keep me grounded in my core beliefs as an educator. I revisit my statements often, and occasionally I make adjustments as I grow in my thinking.  This one statement has remained unchanged:

Children need choice in their learning and time to practice new learning. 

Students won’t become writers just because we want them to be writers. Writers need to wallow in new teaching and they need time to let all the words, ideas and questions wash over them. With time, writers can connect new learning with their schema, and let the new information become their own. 

When I listen to teachers make decisions about schedules; I hear teachers defend time for reading, math and content. Other teachers listen, nodding their heads in agreement. What I don’t hear anyone standing up for is time to write to become writers.

Why Do We Need to Protect Writing Time?
Writers who write over time become writers who write daily and for a variety of purposes. Daily writers come to know writing isn’t easy and best work doesn’t happen every day.  Through writing, students gain experience with words, spelling, conventions, generating topics and genres. Students who write daily become writers.
Just as our students need time to read, explore new topics, and to work as mathematicians they need time and space to do the work of writers.  Our students need time and freedom to realize all writing can’t be their best writing. Writers experience bad writing and know subpar days in their writing is part of being a writer and our students need to know this.
Our schedule provides time for writers to write every day. Writers make these discoveries and learn to settle in with tools, ideas, and the process of writing.  Sitting down to write isn’t an on-demand job for many students. Writing requires students to decide on topics, message, words, space, and to calm the doubts that halt their words.  Sitting beside all these demands is a student. Students who need time to process, practice and try again tomorrow.
Daily writers develop a sense of what writing is and why it’s important.  Writers see the purpose and the message in writing. Writing is an ongoing process and writers who write for a purpose and write regularly understand what it means to be a writer.
How Can I Protect Writing Time?  
  • Establish and stick to routines
  • Teach possibilities in minilessons
  • Offer writing opportunities in all parts of your day
  • Look for lost minutes in transitions
  • Invite support staff to provide services in the classroom
  • Post your schedule
  • Set timers to monitor time
  • Signal transition times with music
  • Ask a colleague into your room to look for lost minutes in the schedule
  • Keep materials organized
  • Teach students to how to access tools independently
  • Hold writing time sacred and your students will too.
More Resources:
Welcome To Writing Workshop Engaging Today's Students with a Model That Works, Stacey Shubitz and Lynne R. Dorfman
About the Authors, Katie Wood Ray
Writing Workshop the Essential Guide, Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Partalupi


  1. I love the way you model all kinds of digital notetaking with your post. I hate that when I comment on your post I lose the ability to see the post at the same time.

    1. Erika,
      Thank you for telling me! I had know idea I had a setting that was hiding the post! How annoying! I hope this will make visiting the blog and having a conversation more friendly!


  2. Your booksnaps certainly have visual appeal. I appreciated the way you linked an application to significant parts of text. The digital considerations made me pause and ponder.

  3. I adore the booksnaps you created, Deb. You never cease to amaze me with the things you create with technology!

    BTW: Love the math you did about independent writing time on one of them. It really does add up!

  4. Deb, I enjoyed your creative way of sharing the highlights and your thoughts! Love your list of suggestions for holding digital mentor texts! You helped me realize it is doable! Scheduling is tough ... thank you for your reasoning on why we need to protect writing time!