Writing Workshop Architecture Assessment Mentor Texts and Charts Sample Lessons
by Component
Sample Lessons
by Genre

(Click here to download the PowerPoint Presentation)
Facilitator Notes
Supporting Documents:

(click on a link to download a sample writing paper)

Facilitator Notes for PLC – Overview of Writing Workshop


The Clemson Virtual Professional Development Library (VPDL) for South Carolina Classroom Teachers was designed to support Professional Learning Communities. As we know, powerful learning can occur when we view teaching and student learning and analyze it together with colleagues! For this reason, the possible responses to the questions that accompany each clip are not only hyperlinked to the questions, but are also given here under “Facilitator Notes.” In this way, the Facilitator of a PLC can more easily prepare to lead a session using one of the modules.

While the modules do not need to be viewed in order, if your school is new to the workshop approach then we would recommend teachers become familiar with the ideas in “Overview of Writing Workshop,” “Classroom Environment: Promoting Engagement and Independence” and especially “Architecture of Writing Workshop” before examining the modules for specific writing lessons. Of course if these concepts are well established in your school community, you may not need to view all of those introductory modules.

Questions to Consider as you view the Classroom Environment PowerPoint with Colleagues

How do the teacher’s and students’ materials promote engagement and independence?

  • Enlarging writing on anchor charts enables students to clearly see your examples which promotes engagement.
  • Anchor charts encourage independence because they provide students with a reference to return to again and again as they write as opposed to asking the teacher for help.
  • Using children’s literature as mentor texts in minilessons and conferences exposes students to beautiful writing.
  • Using students’ writing as a mentor text in minilessons and in conferences provides students with a developmentally appropriate model.
  • Providing young students with paper that is stapled into little books as opposed to using a notebook, enables students to create a product each time they write (a little book). Young students (grades k-2nd) should not write in journals or notebooks. They should always write in little books. Paper choice is critical in the primary grades!
  • Providing students with the right kind of paper, creates a natural graphic organizer. Young students cannot plan with a graphic organizer. When we use the right paper, the paper is the plan! A small booklet stapled together with several pages encourages a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Teachers will want to provide students with a gradient of paper. It is common to provide students with paper that has fewer lines to write on at the beginning of the year. As time passes, the teacher will want to continuously introduce paper with more and more lines. Increasing the lines on the paper automatically increases students’ writing volume.
  • Tools are important to students! Colored pens encourage students to write. Pens also require students cross out “mistakes” rather than erase them allowing the teacher to see students’ revisions.
  • Writing folders with red and green dots (students store writing that is complete on the red side, writing that is still in progress on the green side), encourage students to be independent and the boss of their own writing. Students need to decide when they are done and when to keep working on a piece. Do not be the gatekeeper of writing workshop!
  • Copies of charts stored in student folders (ABC charts, mini word walls, etc.) promote student independence.

What materials do you want to add to your classroom?

  • Answers will vary.

How do the spaces in these classrooms promote engagement and independence?

  • A meeting area promotes engagement because students are close to the teacher when she is teaching. Proximity promotes engagement.
  • Having a specific spot to store student materials enables students to get started writing more quickly and continue writing independently without interrupting the teacher.
  • Having a specific spot to store teacher materials (conferring notebook, mentor texts, etc.) enables teachers to get started working with students more quickly each day.

What spaces do you want to create in your classroom?

Answers will vary.

How do the routines established by these teachers promote engagement and independence?

  • Predictable routines promote engagement because less classroom time is wasted.
  • Predictable routines allow students to be independent and not bother the teacher. Students know what to do when they encounter a problem and ways to solve that problem on their own (or with the help of the materials and people in the classroom).
  • Long term partnerships promote engagement because students know who to turn and talk with every day so know time is wasted seeking out a new partner each day.
  • Long term partnerships promote engagement because students have time to get to know each other as writers.
  • Long term partnerships promote engagement because they provide writers with someone to share their writing with besides the teacher.
  • Long term partnerships promote independence because students know who to turn to for help when they encounter a problem.

What routines do you want to create in your classroom?

  • Answers will vary.