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Tools for a Writing Classroom: The Writing Process & Writers Workshop
ideas for managing and maintaining a workshop environment in your classroom

Hello, my name is Patty Foncault, and I have been a Consultant with the NNWP since 2000. The primary focus of my association with the Writing Project during this time has been to provide a number of various in-service classes aimed at helping classroom teachers become more comfortable with incorporating all sorts of writing assignments across the curriculum. In doing so, in every inservice class, I have noticed a common lament among teachers who attend. Many simply do not feel they have the confidence they need to run a writers workshop. They have many questions: How can I fit in regular writing time in an already crowded schedule? Where do the ideas come from? What do students do when they finish a writing assignment before the rest of the class? How do I manage student conferences? The list of questions seems endless.

My purpose with this page at WritingFix is not to provide a step-by-step procedure for running a successful writers workshop. There are a plethora of excellent books on the market written by people who are far more qualified than I am that do that. Some of the authors who have been most influential in my own teaching career are Katie Wood Ray, Donald Graves, Ruth Culham, Barry Lane, and Ralph Fletcher. I urge you to seek the advice of these, and other experts, if you want a systematic and comprehensive approach to writer’s workshop.

Rather, my vision for this webpage is that it would be a quick reference for teachers who need help with a certain aspect of writers workshop, or who are looking for new ideas to light a spark to something already in place. I have attempted to gather together in one place some great ideas that have worked well for myself and other colleagues. You will find help with getting started, seed ideas if you will. This should help with the “How do I get them all started and how do I keep them busy?” There are many great ideas for illiciting great writing for creative as well as authentic purposes across the curriculum. Wondering how to manage conferences with each of your students? You’ll find some suggestions for that as well. Grading can be problematic for many of us. I’ll share some strategies that have worked for others and how to involve students in the process, thereby giving them a greater degree of responsibility and ownership of their work.

Finally, I would encourage any of you who have been hesitant to begin a writer’s workshop because of some sense of inadequacy on your part. If you wait until you feel like an expert, you probably will never begin at all! Writer’s workshop is always a work in progress, for both teacher and student. We learn and grow as we do! The most important thing is that your students sense your support, encouragement, and your value of writing as a way of expression.

The Writing Process: WritingFix's Homepages

Ideas for Keeping Your Writers Workshop Going:

Over the Summer of 2008, a group of NNWP TCs worked together during an Advanced Institute to launch the following pages of resources. These pages are works-in-development, and they will grow during the 2008-2009 school year.

  • The Prewriting Homepage NNWP TC Jamie Priddy hosts this page of ideas and resources for prewriting.
  • The Drafting Homepage NNWP TC Corbett Harrison hosts this page of ideas and resources for drafting and composing.
  • The Response Homepage NNWP TC Campbell Valle hosts this page of ideas and resources for responding to writing.
  • The Revision Homepage NNWP TC Dena Harrison hosts this page of ideas and resources for revising writing.
  • The Editing Homepage Resources from the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide and Secondary Writing Guide are shared here.
  • The Publishing Homepage NNWP TC Amie Newberry hosts this page of ideas and resources for publishing writing.
  • Evaluating Writing Homepage Resources from the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide and Secondary Writing Guide are shared here.

In Spring 2009, Patty will be hosting a brand new inservice class in Northern Nevada inspired by her latest work with writers workshop. Below are write-ups of five ideas she will be presenting to her participants.

Resources from the Secondary Writing Guide:

Patty's Writers Workshop Book Suggestions:

The cover of the NNWP's Secondary Writing Guide (now out-of-print) provided a graphic that attempted to show a connecting among the writing genres, the writing process, and the writing traits. Many teachers who struggle with juggling genre, process, and traits found the graphic very helpful.

Of particular note on the circle below, beneath the names of each step of the writing process, are suggestions for which of the 6 traits might be focused on during that step of writing.

Inside Writing: How to Teach the Details of Craft by Donald Graves and Penny Kittle

 

 

 

 

 

6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide by Ruth Culham

 

 

 

 

What You Know by Heart: How to Develop Curriculum for Your Writing Workshop by Katie Wood Ray

 

 

 

 

 

What a Writer Needs by Ralph Fletcher

   

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