Writer's Workshop in First Grade: What does it look like?
First grade learners might already be familiar with the Writer's Workshop process if it was utilized in Kindergarten. If not, you can introduce it much in the same manner that Kindergarten students would learn about it. Students in first grade will benefit from guidance through the writing process, the utilization of phonetics to sound out words, using sight words in meaningful ways, creating an awareness of punctuation, and through referring to outside resources for spelling corrections. Writer's Workshop exposes first grade students to the organization and thought required to create a story or write about a favorite topic.
- a mini lesson
- status of the class/independent writing
During each mini-lesson, you have the flexibility to decide what might be most helpful to your learners that day. The mini-lesson should only be about five to ten minutes long, and should be something that is applicable to the project they are working on. It can be a general skill or something specific that will help them to complete their work successfully.
Status of the Class/Independent Writing:
After the mini-lesson, explain the task for the day, and students can begin working independently. Check in with each learner to check on current work. You can utilize a simple checklist to do this. While working, touch base with each learner to note progress and help as needed. This portion of the Writer's Workshop will take up the bulk of time. (Tip: Use sticky notes to help keep track of how far each student has gotten on his or her work, or note which ones you might need to circle back to that day. Sticky notes can also be helpful tools for students to use on their work as they edit or write.)
To wrap up Writer's Workshop for the day, close out the time by reconnecting and regrouping. You might circle back to the mini-lesson to check for understanding, or share observations from the independent work time that day. This is also the designated time for sharing. You might also provide your Kindergarteners with a preview or goal for the following day. Be sure that students place their work into their Writer's Workshop folders and store them properly for the next day. If you collect them, it is easy to peek at each one to double check on progress if needed before utilizing them during the next scheduled Writer's Workshop.
First graders enjoy the independence of early writing, the power of their words to express thoughts, and the opportunity to describe experiences to classmates. During each Writer's Workshop, you will conduct a mini-lesson, allow time for independent writing work, and then close out the lesson. Writer's Workshop projects can be guided or student choice, and may be completed with paper and pencil, by using technology, or a little bit of both. This is at your discretion.
In first grade, students begin focusing more on the writing process as well as various types of writing. Some of the following writing genres that you will utilize are shared here:
- Opinion Writing: State an opinion and the reason(s) for that opinion.
- Informative/Explanatory: Identify a topic and provide information about that topic.
- Narrative: Tell about two or more sequential events with details and time order words.
Students at this level should have the opportunity to focus on completing the steps of the writing process, creating simple and complex relevant sentences, and forming paragraphs. As the year progresses, topics can become more detailed with higher expectations. First graders can also take part in presenting their work and listening to their peers share their projects too.