According to Fletcher and Portalupi, students use writing in a variety of ways: to communicate, question, persuade, synthesize, teach (1). Fletcher states, “…a writing work shop creates an environment where students can acquire these skills along with the fluency, confidence, and desire to see themselves as writers” (1). A writer’s work shop consists of the following components: minilessons, conferences, strategies lessons, and teaching shares according to Bender (xvii). Fletcher and Portalupi (11-13), as well as Peha (3), break their writing work shop into three components: minilessons, writing time, and share time with individual or small group conferencing. All components are needed to make a successful writer’s work shop.
Minilessons are very short, usually anywhere between five to fifteen minutes long, and are focused and direct with the topics being chosen for each minilesson based on the needs of the whole class (Bender 5; Fletcher 10; Peha 3). Fletcher explains that the topics of a teacher’s minilesson should fall into one of four categories (10). These include: procedural, writer’s process, qualities of good writing, and editing skills (Fletcher 10-11). Once the minilesson is over, student’s should be given time to write independently and the teacher must be aware that not all students will go back and use the strategy that was taught in the minilesson that day because not every student will be at the same place in the overall writing process (Bender 6; Fletcher 12).
Writing time should have the most time devoted to it in the work shop (Fletcher 12). Peha suggests twenty to forty-five minutes for student writing time (3). During this time, students are working independently on writing projects; as well as conferences being done during this time (Fletcher 12). Conferences should be short, between five and seven minutes, and should be used to coach the writer and be a positive experience (Bender 10). Bender suggests that teachers record the date, what topic was discussed, and any other points of interest from that conference to reference at later dates (10).
Share time, as explained by Fletcher and Portalupi, is a time for students to share their work and thoughts to the rest of the class; and is also a time for students to give and receive response to each other’s writing (13). Bender describes a different type of sharing activity to do during the writer’s work shop; it’s called teacher share (13). Teaching Shares should be brief, about two to five minutes in length (Bender 14). Bender suggests that your teaching share be relevant to a majority of your students and use personal or students work for visual aid and reinforcement (14). The teaching share should include a teaching point that has a skill or strategy attached and also relevance to why students should use this in their writing (Bender 14).
II. Classroom experience
After being in the field, I have seen examples of each of these aspects of a Writer’s...