Developing Writing Skills through Workshop Environment

3rd Grade Writing Workshop

Writing is a crucial skill for kids to develop. This curriculum helps writers become capable, confident writers through daily writing in a workshop environment.

Students will write narratives in this unit using the mentor texts Small Moments, The Darkest Dark and Changing the World. They will also learn about procedural writing.

Writer’s Notebooks

In this unit children learn that the writer’s notebook is a place to experiment with writing, play with different techniques, and discover their identities as writers. This is a great time to introduce students to the idea of using bits and pieces from their lives in their writing (leaves, ticket stubs, photos, etc)!

This is also a wonderful opportunity to introduce the idea of supporting an opinion with reasons. Fountas & Pinnell’s Writer’s Notebook: Intermediate, is the perfect resource for this unit! This 30 page notebook provides a year’s worth of opinion writing prompts with guided worksheets. These are a great way to help build quality content, improve sentence fluency, and use domain-specific vocabulary. It is also a great tool to use for one-to-one writing conferences!

Information Text

The teacher supports the development of opinion pieces by helping students identify a topic for their writing, then supporting them as they find reasons that support their position. The teacher encourages students to use graphic organizers for their research, and he/she guides the writing process so that the opinion piece is organized clearly with an introduction, a statement of position, supporting facts/details, and a conclusion.

The teacher introduces new vocabulary words through reading and class discussions, recording unknown words on sticky notes for students to work with in small groups. The teacher models how to determine meanings by looking at the context of the word and referring back to the text for clues. Students create a three-flap foldable, listing the subject matter under one flap, the author’s viewpoint under another, and their own viewpoint under the third.

Crafting True Stories

At this level, students have a strong desire to produce “publishable quality” work. However, they may also become concerned about focusing on mechanics rather than content and purpose.

To help them overcome this tendency, it’s important to give children frequent opportunities to revise their work. Teachers should also focus on encouraging students to expand their ideas in the revision process and not just correct grammatical errors.

The Crafting True Stories unit teaches children to take small moments in their lives and develop them into an understandable narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. The Changing the World unit rallies students to use their writing skills to persuade others about issues that matter to them like stopping bullying, recycling, or saving dogs at the local SPCA.

Changing the World

Writing workshop gives children a chance to write independently on topics of their choice. They may share their writing with peers or the class and also have time to conference with teachers. During this time, teachers can provide specific targeted instruction to help writers improve their work.

After learning about drafting and revising in the first unit, students move on to using all their knowledge about information text as they create chapter books that synthesize a variety of sources. Students learn to organize their ideas and develop logical groupings of information, while also crafting figurative language.

The final unit, Changing the World, asks writers to apply their skills by gathering and organizing information to support bold and brave opinions in persuasive speeches and petitions.

Once Upon a Time

Writing Workshop provides manageable amounts of explicit instruction and support to meet children’s individual needs. The writing process is scaffolded by providing a clear path to finished products: the units of study have daily lesson plans, diagnostic and formative assessment built into them.

During Share Time at the end of each workshop session, two or three children will read their work to the class. This is a powerful way to give children the satisfaction of an audience. It also helps them see that writing is meant to be read. It is important to find a way to examine all of the children’s writing in their folders to be able to assess their progress with a rubric. This could be done with a schedule that examines each folder at least once a week.

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