Writer's Workshop

The Structure of


Mini Lesson: 5-25 minutes

The mini-lesson is where I can make a suggestion to the whole class...raise a concern, explore an issue, model a technique, reinforce a strategy. Firt a mini-lesson with the whole class is given, generally lasts 5-25 minutes. I try to choose a teaching point that I feel would benefit many members of the class. 

Examples of Mini-Lessons

Content FocusConventions Focus
  • Getting an idea
    -making lists
    -things you love
    -writing from emotion
    -moments in time
  • Adding detail
  • Adds responses/telling the inside story
  • Choice of words/ descriptive language
  • Replacing tired words
  • Great beginnings
  • Wow endings
  • One moment in time
  • Observations
  • "I wonder" writings
  • Something ordinary
  • Staying on focus
  • Working with a seed idea
  • Developing a plan for writing
  • Finding your voice
  • Genre studies:
    -informational reports
    -picture books
    -How-to books
  • Use appropriate spacing
  • Spelling phonetically
  • Spell "High Frequency" words correctly
  • Capitalize I, names
  • Capitalize beginnings of sentences
  • Ending punctuation marks
  • Quotation marks
  • Commas
  • Use of "and"
  • Using appropriate grammar

Sample chart created during a Mini-Lesson

The Art of Teaching Writing, Calkins


Independent Writing/Collecting Entries


After the mini lesson, students work in their Writer's Notebook to collect entries that may later become published pieces of writing.  The total writing time lasts for about 35-40 minutes, but during that time some students may be involved in conferences with the teacher or with their peers.

Students choose entries in their notebooks to take into "draft form."  It is these carefully selected pieces of writing that will be taken through the process of editing and revising so that they can be published and shared with others.  All entries in the Writer's Notebook do not become published prices of writing.  All published writing is added to each student's Writing Portfolio, and some pieces will even be put into student created books.



While students are involved in independent writing, I use this time to confer with my writers.  I take notes during conferences to document students' progress and to plan future mini-lessons.  During this time I may:

  • Listen to students read their entries aloud

  • Help students decide what they want to say

  • Provide feedback

  • Re-teach skills taught during mini lessons

  • Teach necessary new skills

  • Reinforce a writer's strengths

  • Give writers new ways of thinking


At the end of writing workshop everyday, students are brought back together for a 5-10 minute group share and reflection.  When students sign up to share or are asked to share, they take a seat in our coveted "Author's Chair."  Sometimes a writer might come to the author's chair to ask for help or receive feedback from his or her classmates ("I like my story, but I can't think of a good title.").  The author might also want to share part of an entry of which he or she is especially proud.

During many group shares, each student gets a turn to share a small part of an entry, especially if I have asked students to try a particular new skill during the day's mini-lesson.