After 11 long weeks of not loving my organization system for writing workshop, I finally have found a system that works for my students and me! I have broken down my main components below:
Each student has a writing folder that they keep in the room at all times filed in a crate by their class period. Beside their works in progress and final pieces, in their writing folder is: a Books I have Read sheet, Written Piece Log, Personal Proofreading Sheet, Spelling Sheet and Writing Workshop Planning Sheet. It may seem like a ton of papers but I have color coded each piece and they know what color to grab to get what they need. The problem I had with the writing folders was that the students were shoving them in the crate at the end of the period and they took forever to find their folder. To solve this problem I gave each class period a color and each writing group a number. I wrote on the student’s folders their group number in the color of their class period. When the students go to get their folder, they know what color tab and what number tab they can find their folder in. I also have assigned a writing group leader for each group. This persons job is at the beginning and end of class to pass out and collect the writing folders. That way there are only 4-6 students at the crate instead of 30! The students can grab their entire hanging folder ( because it has the colored & numbered tab on it) and pass out the file folders to their groups- so far, works like a charm! I posted a picture of the writing crate above. I am going to split half of the folders into another crate because their folders are getting jammed with all the writing (not necessarily a bad thing :) )
My students meet in writing groups when we have writing workshop. To get them into groups, at the beginning of the year I had them write on a note card three people they feel comfortable and would like to work with, and one person they would prefer not to work with. I then had the tedious task of putting my students into groups that worked. I guaranteed them that they wouldn’t get the person they didn’t want to work with, and said they would get at least one of the three they would like to work with. When we have writing workshop, the group meets together to share their writing, comment on it, get help (if they ask for it) or work on writing activities that we are doing in class. Writing groups have become a safe place for the kids to share their work and listen to each other. I have to admit that we don’t meet every single time we have WW, but I try to get them to meet at least once a week.
When students need a conference with me during WW, I have them write their name on the whiteboard in a list. Then I work my way down the list. I use this method after I have walked around the room and made sure everyone has something to start on and doesn’t have any housekeeping type questions. I have found that when the students see where they are on the list, they can estimate how long until they can get help. This helps them to go on to something else, without sitting with their hand up or constantly walking up next to me while I am working with someone else.
Revision/ Editing Student Conferences:
When my students want a revision or editing conference. They put their name on the board and then the first two names work together, then the next two etc.. I wasn’t sure if students would like this method, but I have found that for those who want someone to revise/ edit their work now, they can get immediate feedback. Since everyone is on a different step in the writing process, If students wait for their friend to be done, they may be sitting around waiting a while. Putting their name on the board allows them to meet with someone who is on the same step as they are in the writing process.