Setting up Writer's Workshop - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Setting up Writer's Workshop

If you have read my blog for any time at all, you know I love, love, LOVE Writer's Workshop.  I could list fifteen hundred reasons why I love it, but here are my top 3.

1. It gives kids a voice.

All dang day kids are trying to express themselves...through chatting, playing, dancing... and we are trying to reign them in.  Writer's Workshop is that time where you say "Be YOU!"  Write about what you want!  They are NOT, absolutely not responding to prompts in writer's workshop.  They are taking the skills that you are teaching them and applying it to the topic of their choosing.  They feel empowered because they have so much control over what and how they write!

2.  Reader's and Writer's Workshop work SO beautifully together.

When I read a book for Reader's Workshop I talk about ways we as readers analyze the text, what gives us mental images, how it makes us feel.  Then a couple of days later I pull that SAME book out and discuss how the author gave us clues, how he SHOWED us feeling instead of telling us, and how the author made powerful choices with their verbs. 

3,  The kids LOVE it.

My reluctant writers become involved.  My kids look forward to it.  We can't wait for Writer's Workshop.  They aren't scared to make mistakes.  They know I won't take a red pen to their work, because  I respect their art and their ownership of it. 

Now I can feel you saying "Okay, okay, Katie! Now what???"

First and foremost- beg your principal to buy you Lucy Caulkins Units of Study for your grade level.

Next step INUNDATE your students with quality literature.  

Then focus on setting up your workshop.  This is the first year that I didn't jump into a unit of study right away.  Instead my students wrote about whatever their hearts desired, just to get used to the format of workshop.  
They wrote, and wrote, and wrote! I have never had kids so excited for workshop.... kids were writing non-fiction pieces, mysteries, name it, they wrote it!

This past week we began personal narratives!  I am seeing some GREAT stufff

I have made a lot of changes in how I am running/organizing Writer's Workshop this year!

I have decided to keep all our writing tools in one spot for each table. 

In this draw we keep our actual folders and little student dictionaries.  See below!

These books are provided by my school and travel with our kids to each grade level.  They have sight words and any other words that they add.  These are important for my kids, because I don't spell for them. Period.  I do not want my students in a line waiting for me to spell for them OR dependent on me.  I want them to use what they know about sounds to stretch words out OR to use the word wall. 

Here is my Tiny Topics Notebook.  I use this to list ideas for my Narratives.  My kids each have one of their own. They were THRILLED to get them!

We keep them in our caddies so we can grab them whenever we have an idea to write down!

Here is a peek at the books that I will constantly reference throughout our narrative writing.  I will share more with y'all and my kids soon!

Here is a look at what my Writer's Workshop board looks like for school this week!  The punctuation posters are from my Convention Camp post in my TPT store. 

If you take just ONE thing from this post, than I spent my Monday evening well!  Good night friends!

your photo name


  1. This looks wonderful, Katie! Writing is not something I have done well yet with my first graders. Thank you so much for a starting place. :)

  2. Love this post Katie! I am still learning how I want writers workshop to look in my classroom, and this really helps! Love love love the tiny topics notebooks!

  3. I want to be a writer in your class! Great tips for everyone-- can't wait to see how your kiddos progress this year!

    Mrs. Reed's Resource Room

  4. We also use the green "Words I Use When I Write" books every year. My firsties LOVE them and so do our teachers. They really do look at them when they don't know how to spell something!
    Karen Rowland

    Adventures With Firsties

  5. Where did you get your caddies? I love them.. Thanks for the ideas!!!

  6. Lucy changed the way I teach writing!! I LOVE her! Thanks for sharing how WW looks in your room!

  7. I LOVE your little notebooks for writing down topic ideas! What a great idea.

  8. Thank you for this post! Would you provide pre-stapled booklets for first graders?

  9. I've "taken away" several things from this post. I love your bulletin board and as soon as I have time, I'm going to make one almost exactly like it! Like some of the commenters above have said, you've given me a starting point for this year because I feel like I need to improve on my teaching of writing.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to put all this into a post, especially the pics.

  10. I would love to know more about how you structure this time! We are only given 30 minutes for writing and I feel so rushed in that time!

  11. Love this post! My district adopted Lucy this year and I'm very excited about writing but my kids on the other hand...not so much! I'm looking for ways to spark their interest. Love your anchor chart and your idea notebook!! So cute!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    ”Dots” of Fun!
    1...2...3...Teach With Me

  12. Thank you for sharing. My school adopted Lucy last year and the lengthy lessons are quite scary. I hope you will blog more about your experience with the curriculum and share any anchor charts you make. You are amazing and I am frequently stopping by your blog to see what else is going on in your classroom. Thank you for always sharing your wonderful ideas.

  13. How did you get the circle font? I love it!

  14. There are things I can not understand but I will learn it. I think nothing is too late. Then I realized that I had improved a lot.


Back to Top