Best Practices: Writing workshop at VCES

valley charter elementary school writing workshop 4th grade
The writing workshop process is the arc of each writing unit at Valley Charter. The goal is for each student to develop and hone skills in various writing genres and to find their voices as authors.
At least four days a week, Valley Charter School students engage in the writing workshop process as they learn to craft narratives, opinion pieces, and topical research reports. Writing workshop is designed to maximize student work time and minimize teacher talk time. Teachers teach a mini-lesson around a writing skill or strategy and then students practice in small groups or individually as they work through the writing workshop process.
What does this process look like? Writing workshop step-by-step:
1. Pre-writing: Students apply skills and strategies from pre-writing mini-lessons focused on gathering ideas, shaping thoughts, or researching topics relevant to the particular style of writing they are studying.
2. Planning and outlining: In this stage of the writing process, students learn skills and techniques to effectively organize and refine their initial ideas from the pre-writing phase into a clear and structured document ready for a first draft.
3. Drafting: Students use their work from the planning and outlining stage to write their first draft.  Students and teachers are focused on content rather than writing conventions (like spelling and grammar) at this stage.
4. Revising: Teachers work with students to make big revisions centered around the content of the draft and grade-level appropriate writing conventions like spelling and grammar as students prepare their final version.
5. Publishing and presenting: Teachers and students celebrate finished pieces with writing celebrations at the end of each unit.  Some writing celebrations include presentations to a large or small group.