We have to take the state writing test next week, so a post about writing workshop seems fitting. We use the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop model. The first year I used it I was so overwhelmed that I only got through two units the whole year. The last two years though, I've been very successful at implementing it. The lessons are very long and complicated, so I found it helpful to create an outline for each so it wasn't as much to look at.
Writing workshop has a very set structure. The first 10-15 minutes is the teacher minilesson. Students then write independently for 45-60 minutes. There is usually a mid-workshop interruption for another quick teaching point/redirection. During independent writing time, the teacher confers one-on-one and in small groups with students. The workshop is closed with a 5 minute share time.
You should teach one lesson a day (at least 4 days a week). Students work though units on personal narratives, essays, fiction, literary essays, and memoirs (if there is time). Students use a composition notebook as their Writers Notebook where they collect ideas and try them out. When it is time for students to draft and publish they do it on yellow lined paper before they do final copies. We make a big celebration out of each published piece. Our publishing parties always include sharing with a meaningful audience.
To prepare for 5th grade writing tests we taught the essays unit from Lucy Calkins which teaches them how to search for and gather evidence and organize it meaningfully. They take the real authentic process of building essays. We then turned to the 4-square method for extra practice. They used it for a planning tool since they'd already developed real writing behaviors through Lucy Calkins.
We showed students the rubric that will be used on their state tests. Students assessed past writing with the rubric and scored their own writing with it multiple times. I scored at least one piece each week for the kids as well. Students love knowing what it expected of them and how they will be assessed. I think my students feel confident now going into the test. Of course, I always feel like I need more time. There are still those students who are not writing in complete sentences no matter how much I work with them. So I am nervous and hoping for an easy prompt. My time is up, there is no more I can do. Time to trust in what I've taught.