By Stacey Shubitz & Lynne R. Dorfman
We believe that a writing workshop approach works better than any other method to teach writing, but without a true understanding of how it works, teachers will have to rely on a “one size fits all” program format. While it is comforting to have a script or instructions on what to do each day, teachers must be able to assess student work to inform teaching decisions; provide quality feedback on a regular basis knowing what to specifically praise; and what to work on to move each individual writer forward—all of which doesn’t come from a script. Writing workshop asks the students to make deliberate choices about their writing, which will help them be actively engaged, reflect on their growth, set goals, and more closely imitate the writing process of mentor authors.
It is through these beliefs that we created Welcome to Writing Workshop—a friendly introduction to the rituals and routines of workshop, including the major components, such as whole-class instruction, conferring, small-group instruction, and how to embed grammar into the workshop teaching. Now that we’ve welcomed teachers to writing workshop, it’s time to jump into the teaching of writing.We partnered once again to developed Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser)—a comprehensive, grade-by-grade writing curriculum for students in grades 2–5, coming this fall. Jump Into Writing was created with new-to-workshop teachers in mind since we know many school districts have come to understand that writing workshop is an excellent approach, but need a comprehensive, yet unscripted curriculum to guide teachers as they begin their journey as workshop teachers.
Here are some of the things we think make Jump Into Writing unique:
- Each unit leans on mentor texts, all of which contain wonderful words to inspire young writers.
- Every unit contains sample demonstration texts to use with students, which will also serve as mentors to help teachers create their own demonstration texts.
- Every lesson provides differentiation for EL support, intervention, and enrichment through small-group instruction.
- Each lesson contains conferring and small-group work ideas to help teachers maintain these practices that are at the heart of independent writing time.
- All parts of this curriculum utilize the gradual-release-of-responsibility model.
Our hope is that Welcome to Writing Workshop can set the foundation for Jump Into Writing and that it will give teachers the confidence and knowledge they need to use a resource like Jump to make it work for themselves and for their students.
Jump Into Writing helps teachers establish effective routines ensuring that daily instructional time is well-planned and concise. The goal is to give students the time they need to write daily. We would like to add here that teachers should be writing daily, too—to model the skill or strategy, to demonstrate options such as alternative ways to use transitional words and phrases, or to offer other possibilities for a satisfying ending. Teachers who are able to share something from their own writer’s notebook makes them an insider—a real member of the writing community.
Teachers of writers must be teachers who write!