A mini-lesson is explicit instruction in a specific writing technique taught in a short period of time that usually occurs at the beginning of Writers Workshop. Four types of Mini-Lessons are common. Procedures, Organization, Routine. Strategies and Process Skills Craft and Technique
Students write daily Students determine the topics they write about. Students use a writing folder or notebook to organize their writing. The teacher role is facilitator…circulating around the room, monitoring, encouraging, conferencing, and providing held as needed.
Conferences occurs during independent writing time of the workshop. Students seek responses from their partners, a buddy, or a student the teacher assigns. The teacher conferences with individual students also. Often times conferences occur in a corner of the room or a predetermined area.
This is an integral part of Writer’s Workshop. Students are given the opportunity to share a piece of their writing. This time allows writers to learn from each other, and to see/hear good examples of writing. The time also gives student the opportunity and practice speaking orally in front of the class.
Constant Composition --- this may lead to larger pieces of writing --- it may not. A Place to Write. What Moves You? Heart mapping. What really matters? What in my life, in this world, do I never want to forget? What haunts me? Odd facts, questions, odd & ends, quotes, list, insights Conversations, language, words.
Procedures make your classroom run smoothly. Procedures may include when students can sharpen their pencils, where to find important papers, or what to do if they need to use the restroom. Procedures may include how many student may conference, when you can share a piece, discussion of writing, conferences.
1. Save everything. 2. Date and label everything. 3. Always write on one side of the paper and skip lines during drafting. 4. Write in ink so that I can see your edits, never erase anything on your drafts. 5. Understand writing is thinking, do not do anything that would distract me or other writers. 6. When you confer with me or others, use a 6 inch voice. 7. When you are stuck, use the resources in this room, or the techniques you have been shown to help you.
“We need to teach every child to write. Almost everyday, every K – 5 child needs between fifty to sixty minutes for writing and writing instruction.” Lucy Caulkins, A Guide of Writing Workshops Grades 3 – 5, p. 7.
“ Unfortunately, the teacher’s most common role is that of judge, but this role is least conducive to good writing. When a teacher acts as a judge, children produce wiring only to satisfy the teacher’s requirement or to receive a grade.” Gail Tompkins, Teaching Writing. p.9
“ Writers do not write with words and convention alone; writer write above all with meaning. Children will invest themselves more in their writing if they are allowed – indeed, if they are taught – to select their own topics and to write about subjects that are important to them.” Lucy Caulkins, A Guide of Writing Workshops Grades 3 – 5, p. 9.
“Grandma said when you come on something good, first thing you do is share it with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go. Which is right.” Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree.
“Children deserve to be explicitly taught skills and strategies of effective writing, and the qualities of good writing.” Lucy Caulkins, A Guide of Writing Workshops Grades 3 – 5, p. 10.
“Writers read. Writers read texts of all sorts, and we read as insiders, aiming to learn specific strategies for writing well.” Lucy Caulkins, A Guide of Writing Workshops Grades 3 – 5, p. 11.
Prioritizes writing instruction. There is no time wasted for students waiting for other students to finish. Students develop motivation and the independence to become writers. Students learn to evaluate their own writing in order to improve it. The more children write… and write about what really matters to them… the greater chance to grow into able thinkers. Sets a collaborative tone in the classroom. Addresses the need for differentiated instruction.
Difficult to implement with a large class size. Two Major Outcomes: Children began to want to write. Teachers enjoyed teaching writing. The strong focus on process, and the simple “fun” teachers and their students were having, often meant that understanding the relationship between purpose and audience for writing and the role this had in shaping the particular genre or text type was not made explicit by teachers. Jan Turbill & Wendy Bean Writing Instruction K-6 p. 31
It is a flexible model. Provides a framework for writing instruction. Does provide for different ability learners. Instruction is paramount! Students can write about self-selected topics or write as part of a literature focus unit or thematic unit. Writing workshop and reading workshop are complementary activities.