Writing Workshop

Balanced Literacy – Week 7: Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop

Balanced Literacy.

The Why? The What? and The How?

This Week:  Writer’s Workshop

Balanced literacy has been defined as  “an approach designed to help individual students learn how to process a variety of increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency.” (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001)

It is an approach to teaching. NOT a curriculum. It is HOW we teach our students to be independent readers and writers. It is NOT what books we use to teach them.

Balanced Literacy has been defined in “components” or  “pieces” of literacy instruction.

This 8-week series will focus on the components of a complete BALANCED LITERACY program. We will focus on clear and concise definitions. Definitions that educators can discuss in collaborations. A “common language” where we can learn from each other and with each other.

The 8 components we will focus on are:

  1. Read Alouds
  2. Shared Reading
  3. Guided Reading
  4. Independent Reading
  5. Modeled / Interactive Writing
  6. Shared Writing
  7. Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop
  8. Word Work

Each week we will focus on one area of Balanced Literacy and share experiences,  teacher tips, and resources to support and expand our Balanced Literacy repertoire.


This week:   Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop

This week we jump into Writer’s Workshop!

You can’t THINK of Writing without thinking …


Writer's Workshop

Lucy Calkins Guide to Writer’s Workshop

During the writing workshop, students are invited to live, work and learn as writers. They observe their lives and the world around them while collecting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing well-crafted narrative and expository texts. Students receive direct instruction in a minilesson, during which the teacher explicitly names a skill proficient writers use that is within reach for most of the class, then demonstrates the skill and provides students with a brief interval of guided practice using it. Students then have time to write, applying the repertoire of skills and strategies they’ve learned, while receiving feedback through one-to-one conferences and small group instruction designed to move them along trajectories of development.

Lucy Calkins

The four components of Writer’s Workshop are:

  1. The Mini-Lesson
  2. Writing
  3. Conferring
  4. Share

Let’s discuss each part.

1. The Writing Workshop Mini-Lesson

 The mini-lessons are short, focused, direct. They typically fall into the categories of classroom procedures, the writer’s process, the qualities of good writing, and editing skills. The lesson is 5-10 minutes of directed instruction. Start off your writing lessons by brainstorming ideas. This lesson will help set the stage for a year of writing by giving students a place to find ideas to put in their future writing pieces. If you use interactive notebooks or writing folders, each student needs a place to put ideas, writing pieces in process, and finished works.

Rockin Resources

Writer's Workshop

Tips & Tricks for Writer’s Workshop

Where the Wild Things Learn

Launching Writer's Workshop

Launching Writer’s Workshop

Teaching with Crayons and Curls


2) The Writing in Writer’s Workshop

In my first grade classroom, my students have a folder, a journal, and a Pictionary ( pictures and words ). At the beginning of the school year, we practice writing.

Our routines include:

  1.  First,  they draw a picture with your PENCIL. ( No crayons, yet )
  2. Next, they write the words. After one month of school, we are now beginning to write 2-3 sentences. NO— THEY ARE NOT PERFECT—-  We are just beginning the process.
  3. Last, they may color their picture …unless they would like to ADD MORE. And then they can ADD MORE words to match the picture!
  4. I like to play classical music while my students are writing. I FEEL it helps them focus on their writing and gives them a quiet, calm atmosphere to create.

Right now our writing stamina is at about 10-15 minutes. As we become better writer’s, our stamina will increase to about 30-40 minutes.

3) Conferring during Writer’s Workshop


4) Sharing During Writer’s Workshop

We call it the AUTHOR’S CHAIR.

My students are placed into 4 groups. 10-15 minutes before we dismiss, we ask the 6 team members if they would like to READ or PASS. If they choose to READ, they get their journal and come to the big “TEACHER CHAIR”. They choose 1 story to share with us. Our emergent readers can tell us the story and then they show us their picture.

Later in the year, we will give one compliment and ask one question to the “AUTHOR”. They LOVE this! It is important to discuss “beginning writer’s” and “advanced writers”, ahead of time.

No hurt feelings and EVERYONE’S work is appreciated! 

Writer’s Workshop is a planned time during the day when students can create writing of their own.

During this time, guided writing small groups may be meeting with the teacher or individual conferences may be happening. Whatever your choice, embrace the attempts. The successes and the failures will make them better readers and writers. We learn from our mistakes. Hold them accountable. Quality work is always our goal.


These literacy posts may help in YOUR Balanced Literacy journey.

Balanced Literacy

Read At Home

Flexible Seating

Read Alouds

Reading at Home

These Writer’s Workshop resource books for TEACHERS may be helpful for YOUR reading.

Writing Strategies

Writing Strategies

Writing Strategies


Launching Writer's Workshop the Book

Launching Writer’s Workshop the Book

Launching the Writing Workshop

So…Leave me a comment… What does Writer’s Workshop look like in YOUR classroom?

Also…  check out these WONDERFUL teacherpreneurs to connect with!

Sept, Teacher Talk

Check out these amazing teacher blogs on TEACHER TALK

Partner Posts

Balanced Literacy blog Series. Week 7 of 8, Writer's Workshop. How to set it up, some tricks & tips for creating a successful classroom writing workshop.

6 thoughts on “Balanced Literacy – Week 7: Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop

  1. sightseekertravels

    That’s awesome that you are putting so much thought and care into teaching kids! We all have heard that instructors tend to put a LOT of extra time into their work beyond what they’re paid for, and this is proof! Nicely done!

  2. AJ

    I use writers workshop each week, but I tie the lesson into a book I can read before we start to grab their attention and demonstrate the skill we’re learning that day.

  3. Margo Gentile

    Nicely done. Great explanation of the process!I use the same approach in Writer’s Workshop, although what we do in each step varies slightly from what you do. For instance, I allow the students to “draw” their whole narrative first and “read” it aloud to others before attaching the written word(s) to it.

  4. thosewholoveteaching

    Thank you for taking the time to break down this process. I love using balanced literacy, and I find it’s always good to revisit its philosophy and individual components.

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