Setting Up a Writing Program in Your Classroom

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Need help setting up a writing program in your classroom? It can be a daunting task! Use the questions in this blogpost to help you. Be sure to download the PDF that accompanies this blogpost and add it to your day planner. 

🐝 Materials For This Blogpost

🐝 Setting Up Your Writing Program – Questions To Ponder

Thinking about the questions below will help you create a writing system in your classroom that works for you and your students. An effective writing system lets you focus your time on developing the writing skills of your students and helping them become better writers.

There are three areas to consider when setting up your writing program:

  • the materials you’ll use in your program,
  • the organizational structure for your writing program, and
  • the writing program itself and what it will look like.

🐝 Materials For Your Writing Program

1. Writing Materials
  • What writing materials will you use with your students?
  • Will you use writing folders? …notebooks? …duotangs? …binders? …or a combination of more than one of these?
  • Where will you store the writing materials?
  • Will you have a writing corner?
  • Will you put the materials on shelves in your room?
  • Will students keep the writing materials in their desks or lockers?
  • Will you use bins to store any of the materials?
2. Writing Folders
  • Will your students use writing folders?
  • What will they keep in the writing folders?
  • Will they keep their
    • ten minute writing activities?
    • pre-writing graphic organizers?
    • draft copies?
    • final copies?
    • other materials?
3. Writing Notebooks
  • Will your students use writing notebooks?
  • What will they use writing notebooks for?
  • Do they need more than one writing notebook?
  • Will they use notebooks for their
    • draft copies?
    • good copies?
    • journals?
    • other?
  • Will you use interactive writing notebooks for topics covered in mini lessons and during writing talks?
4. Writing Duotangs
  • Will your students use writing duotangs?
  • What will they put in their writing duotangs?
  • Will they store their
    • graphic organizers?
    • draft copies?
    • good copies?
    • assessments?
    • rubrics?
    • goal setting documents?
    • other?
5. Writing Binders
  • Will your students use writing binders?
  • What will they store in their binders?
  • Will they store their
    • graphic organizers?
    • draft copies?
    • good copies?
    • assessments?
    • rubrics?
    • goal setting documents?
    • other?
6. Spelling Dictionaries
  • Will your students have access to a beginner dictionary?
  • Will students have personal spelling dictionaries?
  • Where will they keep the spelling dictionaries?
  • When will students use their spelling dictionaries?
  • Will you let students use the dictionaries
    • during the pre-writing stage of the writing process?
    • in the drafting stage?
    • in the revising and editing stage?

🐝 Organization of Your Classroom and Writing Tools

1. Writing Corner
  • Will you have a spot in your classroom to store all your writing materials?
  • Can students meet to conference with other students and talk about their writing in the writing corner?
  • What types of supplies do you need in your writing corner?
  • Do you need
    • pencils, pens, markers?
    • staplers?
    • scissors?
    • scrap paper?
    • chairs for conferencing?
    • other?
2. Work on Writing
  • Where can students work on their writing?
  • Do they need to sit at their table or desk?
  • Can they work wherever they want in the classroom?
  • Can they work
    • out in the hall?
    • in the library?
    • other?
3. Writing Tools
  • Can students use computers, iPads, tablets or phones for part or all of the writing process?
  • Is voice typing an option for some of your students or all of your students?
  • Can students compose their stories on the computer?
  • Can students publish their writing using technology?

🐝 Writing Program Details

1. Mini Lessons or Writing Talks
  • Will you begin each writing class with a mini lesson or writing talk?
  • How will you decide on a topic?
  • Will you
    • follow a set sequence of topics?
    • decide on topics based on student need?
2. Daily Journal Writing
  • Are you going to include journal writing into your teaching schedule?
  • Will students write every day?
  • How long will the journal writing last – ten minutes or some other amount of time?
  • When will you schedule journal writing?
  • Will you use journal writing
    • as a bell-ringer activity?
    • to begin writing lessons?
    • after recess?
    • another time of day?
3. Writing Ideas
  • How will students come up with writing ideas?
  • Will you provide them with lists of ideas?
  • Will students come up with their own ideas?
  • Will you offer students a choice of topics or will all students write about the same topic?
  • If you are providing a choice of topics, how many options will you provide?
4. Sharing Writing
  • How will students share their writing?
  • Will they share their writing
    • with a partner? 
    • in small groups?
    • as a class?
  • Is there a way for your students to share their writing with another class?
  • Will you pair up your students with another class so they’ll have writing buddies?
5. Assessing Writing
  • How will you assess the writing of your students?
  • Will
    • students assess their own writing?
    • peers assess each other’s writing?
    • you be the only one who assesses student writing?
  • What assessments you use?
  • Will you use
    • informal assessments?
    • rubrics?
    • other?
6. Goal Setting
  • Will students set writing goals?
  • How will students choose the goals they work on?
  • Will you provide students with a list of goals?
  • Will you help students choose an appropriate goal?
  • Will your students set
    • daily goals?
    • weekly goals?
    • monthly goals?
    • goals each term?
7. Conferencing With Students
  • Will you conference with students?
  • How will you conference with students?
    • individually?
    • in small groups?
  • Will you systematically meet with a couple of students each day?
  • Will you walk around and conference with students as they need help?
  • How will keep track of the students who you met with?
  • Will you keep notes?
  • Where will you find the time to conference with students?
  • Will you set aside a block of time each time to conference with students?
  • What will the other students be doing while you are conferencing?
  • What if these other students need help?
8. Writing Projects
  • Will students work through writing projects as a class or will you use a writer’s workshop approach?
  • Do you want all students to be working on each stage of the writing process at the same time?
  • Will you let students who finish one project begin another project when they are done?
9. Finished Projects
  • Will students share their finished projects
    • with the class?
    • with the school?
    • with their parents?
    • with their writing buddies?
    • other?
  • Where will students store finished projects?
  • Will they put them
    • in a folder? 
    • in a binder?
    • in page protectors?
    • in a writing portfolio?
    • other?

🐝 How To Use the Setting Up Your Writing Program Document

  1. Download the document.
  2. Read through the questions in each section.
  3. Decide which ideas you’ll use in your writing program.
  4. Record notes on the document.
  5. Set up the writing program in your classroom.

Action Step:

Read through the different sections of the Setting Up a Writing Program document. Use the questions to determine how you would like to set up your program.

🐝 The Setting Up Your Writing Program planning document is one of the many ideas found in 101 Writing Ideas.

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