Writing Center Visuals:
The first thing you need to do is make everything visible for your students in your writing center. This includes transition and time order words that your students will use with every writing piece, mini lesson anchor charts, a seasonal vocabulary word wall, a variety of writing papers and prompts, along with supplies in labeled baskets.
By making everything visible, your students will become independent writers, which will give you more time to conference with each of your students every week AND provide you with the opportunity to meet with a small group of writers as needed.
“Teacher, how do I xyz?” Avoid these questions by making all your anchor charts visible in your writing center all year long.
Yes, keep your anchor charts up all year long as a visual reminder of your writing expectations and curriculum.
Some students will be ready for paragraph writing, while others are still working on labeling pictures with words or sounding out each word and writing down every sound they hear.
“Should I hang the posters as I teach the skill or have them hanging up all year round?” This is a question I get from teachers All. The. Time.
My answer: Yes, have the anchor charts hanging all year round. You never know what writing readiness a child is at. Having all the anchor charts on display from the beginning of the year is a must.
Another benefit of having your anchor charts on display in your writing center all year round is because your more observant students will “read the room” throughout the year and pick up on those lessons before you teach them.
You can find a set of 32+ anchor charts and writing goals HERE as you see pictured above.
Make Your Writing Center Interactive
“Teacher, how do you spell xyz?”
Avoid this interruption by having a seasonal vocabulary word wall on display year round. I created three seasonal writing centers that include a seasonal word wall for fall, winter and spring. I adhere the vocab cards to the bulletin board with Velcro.
Here is the big take away, staple the Velcro tab a couple of times to the bulletin board so they do not rip the decorative paper as they pull the vocabulary card off.
Or simply use a pocket chart!
Don’t forget to make desk plates available for your students to bring “write” to their desk. Store them in a basket so they are readily available with all the transition and time order words spelled out for them.This will help them learn how to write an organized paragraph. Using transition words and phrases encourages them to add lots of details to their writing.
Honestly, you have to admit, any author whether they are adult or kid-size, does NOT appreciate always being TOLD what to write about. Provide your children with a variety of writing topics by including an abundance of writing prompts/papers to choose from in your writing center.
Having an abundance of fun writing papers to choose from encourages your students to write. What young child wouldn’t want to write about worms, bats, or unicorns? Foster a love of writing by allowing them to write about what they are passionate about!
By doing so, they are left with a plethora of options of how to continue writing during your writing block. Even after they have finished a writing prompt or complete a stage in the writing process that you assigned and/or finish a class project earlier than their peers.
There are always early finishers who tend to distract their peers because they don’t know what to work on next. Print out an abundance of writing prompts to encourage your young writers to keep on writing! You will have a crowd at your writing center… It will be a popular place to be!
Provide More Choice in your Writing Center
Children always want to share about an experience they have had, a trip they took, a family outing, or a cartoon character they love etc. Provide them with blank writing papers or book templates for them to choose from.
Have them share those stories during Writer’s Workshop instead of during your busiest times of the day. Simply say, this is a story you need to write about, be sure to raise your hand during Writing Share Time!
Try using writing templates. I print them off in bulk. I organize them in baskets as PAGE 1 (with space to illustrate) and then PAGE 2 (with simple lines) to add to their story. Each writing paper template has their own basket for your young writers to choose from. Your students can later add these writing pieces to their portfolio.
Assign Writing Goals and Differentiate Your Instruction
No two writers are alike. Consider assigning your students writing goals when you conference with them. This will give them a specific purpose to improve their writing while they are writing independently without your direct instruction.
If you take anything away from this blog post, writing goals are TRULY the way to go. I can’t say enough about how having individual “drive-by conferences” helped me meet the individual needs of each of my writers. It’s a total game changer. Read all about it HERE.
Adhere their personalized goal to their writing folder. Each time they sit down to write, they know what they must work on to improve their author’s craft.
Making their writing goals visible on their writing folders makes it so much easier when you conduct “drive-by writing conferences“. You get a quick reminder of your last writing conference, and are able to check their writing to see if they are working on their personal goal and if they are ready to move forward on a new writing skill.
Celebrate Writing Achievements
When you conference with your students and you see that they are ready for a new writing goal, assign them a new one.
For example, see how Zaden is finally including finger spaces between words and is now ready to make sure he uses capital letters at the right time? He used mini erasers to help him with those finger spaces. Bravo! He came up with this strategy on his own. Love it!
So, at this point it’s a “stop the world” moment so you make an announcement with this class cheer/call back:
“Hip Hip Hooray, _____ got a new writing goal today!”
“Hip, Hip, Hooray, Hip, Hip Hooray!”
Provide your students with a special place to house their published writing pieces by giving them a Writing Portfolio. Organize them by season to match your seasonal writing bulletin board and writing prompts!
Young Author Crowns are another favorite by far in our primary classroom! Once your students publish their first book, crown them a Young Author. They will parade around the school all day, proud of their accomplishment! Their families will be so happy to see them come home from school crowned an author!
Organizing your Writing Center and Workshop lessons using some of these strategies is a great way to foster a positive writing atmosphere that celebrates learning. Meet your students’ individualized and personal goals and exceed grade level curriculum expectations. #teacherwin