Launching Writer's Workshop

We launched WW with half of our classes last week, 2 of which were mine.  The same three 8th Grade teachers will introduce it to the other half of our sections next week.  We used a PowerPoint and then immediately did a Quick Write to see what the students’ thoughts, questions, and impressions were.  I followed up the next day with the “Stones in A River” activity to help them generate something personal and to help them pre-load their Writer’s Notebooks with some topics for pieces.   I have already given my students a few handouts to paste into their Notebooks:

  1. What Can I Write About?
  2. What Should I Be Doing During Independent Writing Time?
  3. 100 Most Commonly Misspelled Word List.

It’s a little awkward having to divide my energies (half of the classes are having Reading Week while half the classes are having Writing Week) but I think that it’s wonderful to have the chance to tweak and improve my lessons from the first week during the second.  I have not launched Writer’s Workshop in the past 12-13 years so I’m not sure I achieved the highest “teaching flow” I would have liked but it fairly well.   The kids still seem a little confused about the concept.  However, it was only the 4th day of school and all of us are just finding our rhythms, bringing the right supplies, etc.   I’m curious to see how it’s going to work having to collect a finished piece every Friday and then not having Workshop again for another week.

I’m learning a great deal about teaching English already in these first two weeks from my (younger) teammates. They are very different from one another yet both are full of great ideas and tips.  I can only hope to approach their level of proficiency in the next few months.  It will be interesting to see what differences and similarities come up in our workshops because we all have an Advanced Language Arts section, but one teammate is co-teaching in his other sections and has perhaps less proficient students, mostly boys.  My other teammate has a huge number of Gifted and Talented students and also teaches History.  I seem to have nice, well-rounded, middle-of-the-road kids.  It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to work with and grow from exposure to such talented educators in my new building.

I haven’t been able to use my ed tech skills much in the classroom yet as I am busy soaking up so many new facts, routines, curricula, and student names.  I have signed up for some lab time and have some plans for the one machine in my classroom, which I’ll discuss later.  Some people have come by for quick tips, and I always enjoy coaching other teachers in tech. Rumor has it I’m going to lose my interactive white board before I even learn how to use it, but I hope that won’t happen.  We shall see.

My final thoughts are that the 51-minute periods go VERY quickly and it’s obvious that I’ll have to be supremely organized and prepared to make the most of every minute!