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Writing Workshop

"Authors in Action"


An Overview of our Writing Workshop in 2nd Grade

In our second grade classroom, students participate in a daily writing workshop, following our reading workshop. This writing time is in addition to Daily 5 writing time. During Daily 5 writing time, students can choose to continue working on a piece of writing from Writing Workshop which is generally more structured writing time. Daily 5 writing time is generally an extension of Writing Workshop.

At the start of the workshop, the teacher models writing on a large chart or on the ELMO in a mini-lesson that targets a specific writing skill or concept. The mini-lesson usually lasts 10-15 minutes long. The mini-lesson is then followed by independent writing time by the students. At this time, the teacher may choose to meet with a small guided writing group or holds writing conferences with individual students. Independent writing time usually lasts approximately 20 minutes. Afterwards, students participate in a whole group sharing session. Students usually share with a partner because of time; however, sometimes, Mrs. Vensko asks a few students to share. During share time, a few students share a piece of writing in the author's chair while all others listen OR all students share their writing with a partner. Students have been taught to carefully listen to each young author and to give appropriate feedback. Two stars (two things we liked about the writing) and one wish (one way to improve either by asking a question or giving a suggestion) are always given to a young author who shares his or her writing.


Daily Schedule for Writer's Workshop

(11:00 - 11:45)


Teacher Mini-Lesson Ideas

(routine & procedures, writing process, 6 traits, grammar, craft, mentor text, etc.)

10 minutes for grammar (Treasures)

10 minutes for writing lesson  

 Independent Writing Time/Teacher Conferences (students write independently in writer's notebooks while teacher assists a small group of students or conducts one-on-one student conferences)

 20 minutes

"Brain Music" (classical tunes such as Baby Einstein) plays at this time to help students remain quiet and focused on writing.

 Author's Chair/Sharing Time (students share published work or work in progress; 2 stars, 1 wish)

 5 minutes or less


All young authors need special writing tools to create their wonderful masterpieces! Each student in our second grade classroom has been given a special writer's notebook to use during writer's workshop. The writer's notebook consists of a 1/2 inch 3-ring binder. Inside each binder is a clear plastic pouch which holds our writing tools needed for each stage of the writing process - a blue pen for drafting , a red pen for revising , and a green pen for editing. In addition to the pen pouch, the writer's notebook also contains other resources to assist students when writing stories such as a topics list to generate writing ideas, a thesaurus, a writing dictionary, and colored pocket folders for each stage of the writing process.


Pictures of our writer's notebooks:

I recently have changed to composition notebooks instead of using the red binders pictured below. It was difficult for my second graders to manage the binders and I noticed that the paper would constantly fall out. The composition notebooks work so much better for us!

Pen pouch

Topics List


Writing dictionary

Publishing page

Bare Books

I use Bare Books during writing workshop to publish student writing. A Bare Book is a blank book with a hard-covered front and back. My students decorate the front and back of their Bare Book to make a collage of their choice. You can learn more about Bare Books by visiting this website: www.barebooks.com.

Here are some pictures of the Bare Books that my students created during the 2008-2009 school year. Enjoy the slideshow!


Here are some resources to help you get a writer's workshop started in your own classroom. I have created many of these files myself; however, others I have collected over the years through searching the web. If I have not given proper credit for a file, please let me know as soon as possible and I will make the necessary changes. Thank you!



Writer's Workshop Resource

 Download File

(Opens as a Word Document)

 This is a writing topics list that I created to help my students brainstorm different topics that are important to their lives!

 Topics to write about  

 This is a document I created to record my writing conference notes. There is a box for each student to ensure that I meet with everyone during the week, along with a space to record a compliment and teaching point.

Conference Notes 

 Here is a list of books to use to help spark student writing. I read these books aloud during interactive read aloud time.

Books to spark writing 

(Opens as a pdf file)

 If you are a beginner at writer's workshop, this file is for you! These notes came from the book, Primary Writer's Workshop (not sure of the author). I took these notes immediately after reading the book.

Beginner's Information 

 Here is a list of second grade high frequency words. I call these words 'popcorn words' because they POP up in our reading and writing all the time. I place a copy of these words in each writer's notebook to assist with spelling.

 Second Grade High Frequency Word List

 Here is a list of the steps in my writer's workshop. Students keep this in their

writer's notebook as a reference.

 Workshop Steps

 Here is another form to document your writing conferences.

 Conference Log

 Have you ever wondered how to get grades when using a workshop approach? Here is a scoring rubric to use to grade your students' published works.

 Scoring Rubric

Here is a long list of ideas for writing mini-lessons that I have compiled together over the years. I have included literature connections and teacher resource books that I use.  

Ideas for writing mini- lessons


I will continue to add to this list, so check back soon to see what's new!

I created the following materials from Vista Print for use during our Writing Workshop. The first item is a large magnet that is attached to our writing process board. During "Status of the Class", students state the step of the writing process in which they are working on and then I place their picture next to that step.

This is a bookmark that I created to teach and remind my students of the steps of the writing process that we use during Writing Workshop. They keep these bookmarks in their writer's notebooks. The back of the bookmark reminds them what to do when they peer edit together.


A special thank you to Mrs. Hicks for sharing her wonderful idea of the writer's notebook. Check out her fabulous classroom website!

Mrs. Hicks' 2nd Grade Classroom

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