Writer's Workshop in Third Grade: What does it look like?
Third graders learners will most likely have gained a great deal of writing experience already, and will be familiar with the writing process and various digital tools that can be of help to them when brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Third grade students are capable of responding to more complex prompts and will focus on creating detailed paragraphs, essays, and stories. Their independence will be a helpful asset as you provide modeling and guide them along throughout the year.
Teachers will notice that third grade students can write independently and fluently, but a student may become more concerned about the correctness of the final product rather than the actual process and content. In the third-grade classroom, the goals are to challenge the students to expand their ideas in the revision process, not simply 'correct' the previous ones This helps students become aware of writing for different audiences, create focus within a topic, and try to see the piece of writing from a distance. Because the student is naturally more aware of correct spelling and punctuation, more computer time may be appropriate. Consider utilizing the computer for story mapping and first drafts. Revisions can also be done effectively on a computer.
Writer's Workshop projects can be guided or student choice, and may be completed with paper and pencil, by using technology, or a little bit of both. This is at your discretion. Utilize Writer's Workshop as an asset towards helping your learners to reach multiple curricular goals. Tie their writing into various subject areas throughout the year.
- a mini lesson
- status of the class/independent writing
During each mini-lesson, you have the flexibility to decide what might be most helpful to your learners that day. The mini-lesson should only be about five to ten minutes long, and should be something that is applicable to the project they are working on. It can be a general skill or something specific that will help them to complete their work successfully.
Status of the Class/Independent Writing:
After the mini-lesson, explain the task for the day, and students can begin working independently. Check in with each learner to check on current work. You can utilize a simple checklist to do this. While working, touch base with each learner to note progress and help as needed. This portion of the Writer's Workshop will take up the bulk of time. (Tip: Use sticky notes to help keep track of how far each student has gotten on his or her work, or note which ones you might need to circle back to that day. Sticky notes can also be helpful tools for students to use on their work as they edit or write.)
To wrap up Writer's Workshop for the day, close out the time by reconnecting and regrouping. You might circle back to the mini-lesson to check for understanding, or share observations from the independent work time that day. This is also the designated time for sharing. You might also provide your students with a preview or goal for the following day. Be sure that students place their work into their Writer's Workshop folders and store them properly for the next day. If you collect them, it is easy to peek at each one to double check on progress if needed before utilizing them during the next scheduled Writer's Workshop.
They will also focus on the following writing genres:
- Opinion Writing: State an opinion
and the reason(s) for that opinion.
- Possible Prompts:
- Should kids be allowed to chew gum in school?
- Why is it important to keep our community clean?
- Which holiday is your favorite and why?
- Would you rather clean your room or complete your homework?
- Which subject is your favorite and why?
- Informative: Identify a topic and
provide information about that topic.
- Possible Prompts:
- Write a recipe for your favorite dessert.
- Explain how to write a friendly letter.
- Compare and contrast one dog breed to another dog breed.
- Write about different ways that people can help others in your community.
- Narrative: Tell about two or more sequential events with details and time order words.
- Possible Prompts:
- Write a story about a family who lives in Alaska.
- Tell a story about a time when you were nervous. Include events and details.
- Create a story about an imaginary friend.
- Tell a tale about a scientist that makes a startling discovery.
Although older students will already have a good bit of writing experience, it is still important to set the tone and help them understand WHY becoming a great writer is necessary. Keep in mind, some students might not LOVE writing. This is the chance to make it a positive experience and help them to learn to enjoy it. Ask them to think about reasons they might like to write. Some examples are below:
- to share their feelings
- to share ideas
- to share their experiences
- to communicate
- to share important events
- to teach others
- simply because they love to write
While establishing your Writer's Workshop, discuss WHAT students might write:
I can write:
- Text Messages
Finally, also focus on sharing the work habits of GOOD writers. Ensure that students understand that Writer's Workshop is a time to practice and learn, but also a time to help them feel more comfortable and content with the writing process. Good writers do the following:
- Edit and fix their mistakes
- Have writing stamina
- Brainstorm ideas
- Use details
- Use correct punctuation
- Stay the course
- Stay in control
Remember: Writing goals vary by grade level and Writer's Workshop can be effectively used with ALL learners.