Introduction - Kindergarten

Depending on your class situation and available time, Writer's Workshop activities can be a useful and meaningful extension to TeachersFirst's online instructional units. Writer's Workshop is a teaching technique that invites students to write by making the process a meaningful part of the classroom curriculum. Writing is an expected activity on a daily basis. Students are exposed to the organization and thought required to create a story or write about a favorite topic.Because they are allowed to choose the topic, students are motivated to create and complete works to read to classmates. The Writer's Workshop format includes story planning, revision, teacher editing, and direct instruction in the mechanics of grammar.

For Kindergarten students, whose skills will greatly vary, the goal is to move pre-emergent/ emergent readers into the writing process by eliciting a story from a drawing, recording the student's words in dictation form on the drawing and encouraging the student to move from drawing to writing by guiding the student in the use of phonetics to sound out words. Ideally, students become enamored by the power of their words, and will strive for the independence of fluency. Writer's Workshop and can be paired with reading activities to create a powerful motivating tool when teaching literacy.

The Writer's Workshop is typically a part of each day, however, for teachers with a schedule problem it can be a 3 day a week activity. The main components of the Writer's Workshop include a Mini-lesson, Status of the class, Writing & Conferencing, and Sharing & Author's Chair. Some of these components may already be a part of your classroom routine.


A Mini- Lesson is usually a 5-10 minutes whole class activity and may be as simple as doing guided writing from a story. An example is to lay out a favorite story's events in beginning, middle, and end form, create an idea web about the student's reactions to the story, or bring attention to basic use of punctuation. A group reading activity such as a big book, or song or poem written on chart paper can introduce patterns in language and rhyming words, it could be used to search for phonetic sounds, or even to recognize beginning site words. This is a direct teaching opportunity for teachers to present the information a class is ready to learn. Some teachers require students to use the mini-lesson information immediately; other teachers will gently re-introduce information to students at the conferring sessions according to their individual readiness.

Status of the Class

The Status of the Class takes about 2-3 minutes and provides the student and teacher with information about how the student's work is progressing. It can be done with a quick handing out of the folders and a quick response from the students such as Illustrating, Work in progress, Publishing, or it may be a bulletin board that has color coded cards. A written work must have the following format:

· Front cover: typically a piece of colored construction paper with title, author's name, and illustration (completed after the book is written and revised)
· Title Page: with title, author's name, and illustration and date of completion.
· Dedication Page
· Story pages: in order with page numbers, traced or in students writing with illustrations.
· Back Cover: usually a piece of colored construction paper with Author's page and self portrait or student photo on the inside. (This information can be completed after the book is written and revised.)

Write and Confer

Writing & Conferring is ideally a 20 - 40 minute session.In the beginning of the Kindergarten year however, shorter sessions may work better. As noted earlier students will begin by dictating, with the teacher taking down the student's words with a yellow highlighter after they finish an illustration. The student is then asked to write over the words with pencils or markers to make them all their own. This process provides small motor development, handwriting practice, and brings meaning to the written word.

The child receives a new page after they have illustrated, traced and reread the previous page to the teacher. This is called the conference; a teacher reviews the writing with the student. In Kindergarten editing is not a recommended part of the conference. Instead, the emphasis is on fluency of ideas and the connection of thought from page to page. This helps foster self- esteem. Individual students who are ready for punctuation can be guided in its use by the teacher. Depending upon the curriculum guidelines, spelling may be corrected, or inventive spelling may be respected as the developmental effort of the student. Many teachers will only very lightly pencil underneath if a child has created their own unreadable marks on the page telling the child, "This is so I can remember these important words you've written."

Sharing: Author's Chair

Sharing and Author's Chair usually take 10 minutes and be done either by having the students read to the class a "published book" or by children sharing their work in pairs. If peer editing is to be part of your classroom structure, careful introduction to a process such as TAG will be required. TAG stands for - tell one thing you liked about the story, ask one question, and give one suggestion.

Student Assessment is done by keeping a portfolio of revisions and copies of completed work.