Professional Development

January 4, 2020

8 Helpful Tips for a Better Writer’s Workshop

These writer’s workshop tips will take your time from frazzled to smooth! I can’t wait to share them with you!

One of my favorite thing about writer’s workshop is seeing that lightbulb moment click for my young writers. You know the one – when a student who has been struggling with something finally gets it. I love seeing my young writers start to transform their scribbles and letters into sentences and paragraphs.

I have a few handy writer’s workshop tips to share with you that really helped me boost my students. Doing these things also helps keep the writing block running smoothly and efficiently.

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1. Use music to help students concentrate.

Play quiet music to help drown out some of the noise so students can concentrate. Then, they’ll start to associate the music as ‘writing time’ and know it’s time to get busy as soon as the music starts.

My favorite music was a baby lullaby CD I found at Half Price Books in my first year of teaching. HERE is a similar one on Amazon. Another idea is to stream an instrumental station on Pandora or Spotify.

2. Slowly build writing stamina.

Start with shorter independent writing time and build that up when your students are more comfortable with the routine. Don’t feel like you need to start with 30 minutes of independent writing when your students aren’t ready for that. We want our young writers to feel successful during this time, and stamina takes practice.

3. Create procedures for when students need your help.

Have a system in place for when students need help or get stuck. You don’t want them to stop and do nothing until you can come to help them. Teach them what they can do while they wait for you to come to help them. I have seen some teachers use a card with a red side and a green side for each student. When students need help, they flip their card to red. This is a simple tool that they can place in their writer’s workshop folder.

4. Minimize interruptions during writer’s workshop.

Implement routines for students to use the restroom, get water, or interrupt you if needed. In this post HERE, I shared a simple way I minimized classroom interruptions and included a freebie for you.

Keep classroom interruptions at a minimum with this 1 simple trick! It's memorable for the students and they love that it's a little silly! Get your FREE poster!

5. Teach students how to use and interact with the word wall.

Model using the word wall frequently. Do think-alouds and actually point and touch the words on the wall to show students how you use it and search for words on it. If we want our students referring to it regularly in writing, then we have to model it consistently. This whole concept can be an entire mini-lesson!

6. Visualize learning and provide resources with anchor charts.

Anchor charts can be very helpful for writer’s workshop. They provide a visual way for students to anchor their learning and refer to things as needed that you’ve already taught them. HERE I share a few of my favorites to make. The fifth one came in handy all time!

Create a mini-anchor chart with students during writer's workshop to show them all the various words that can be used in place of a simple word. This helps them fancy up their writing!

TIP: They don’t need to be huge to be effective. This is a piece of 18 X 11 paper.

7. Encourage students to use words outside of their word wall words.

When students are more comfortable with writing and referring to the word wall, we want to encourage them to start using more exciting words, or WOW words. In my blog post HERE, I shared several great ways to teach students to use WOW words in their writing.

Create a WOW words anchor chart with your students to get them to expand their vocabulary and try new fancy words in their writing!

Another great writer’s workshop tip to get students to try new and different words is to implement the Try It First Dictionary. In this post HERE, you can see how I use the Try It First Dictionary (a FREEBIE), a great mini-lesson idea, and what modeling should look like.

Using a Try It First dictionary has totally changed the attitudes and self esteem of my little writers!

8. Use real examples of students writing to motivate them to stay on task.

Finally, use real-life photos of your students doing the things that you want them to. If you see a student on-task, snap a photo and print it out. Display it next to your classroom’s writer’s workshop expectations. Try to catch all of them in action doing what they are supposed to be doing. Then, you can use these photos as mini-lessons when you need to reinforce expectations.

Some of these writer’s workshop tips I learned through helpful coworkers and personal experiences, and some I learned the harder way through trial-and-error. I hope you can pick a few to try out to make your writing time more successful and run smoothly. I’d love to hear some of your favorite writer’s workshop tips! Do you have any writer’s workshop tips to add to this list?

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If you missed my Kindergarten Writer’s Workshop post that went into a lot of details about the structure of writer’s workshop, you can find that HERE. It also has a FREEBIE you can grab!

Happy Teaching,


Writer's Workshop Posters

Grab these FREE writer's workshop guideline posters and be set for beginning writer's workshop!
Use this set of FREE posters for writer’s workshop to help your writers remember important guidelines for writing. You can display them in your classroom for easy reference. Pick them up today!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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