What are the 4 Components of Writing Workshop?

How well do you know this student-centered framework for teaching writing?

Just as students learn to read best by reading, writers learn best by writing. To make the most progress, kids need ownership of their own writing, guidance from an adult writer, and the support of a community of fellow learners. Writing workshop (or writer’s workshop) gives kids the time to write by streamlining instructional moments. Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi’s Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide provides a primer to get teachers going. Here’s how they describe the four components of a writing workshop.

1. Minilesson (5–10 minutes)

Minilessons looks closest to what we associate with traditional teaching. They 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.

2. Writing (35–45 minutes, depending on your schedule)

Here kids are writing for sustained time about topics of their choice. They are drafting, planning, rereading, revising, proofreading, and talking with other writers about their pieces — doing the real work of writing.

3. Conferring

During independent writing, the workshop teacher is moving about the room, taking a couple minutes at a time to check in with students as they write. These moments are opportunities to differentiate instruction by working one-on-one with a student. They are also chances to gather informal assessments of writers’ progress. Based on these assessments, a teacher can plan what to teach in a future minilesson. Or they can pull a small group together to address a common area of need.

4. Share Time (10–20 minutes)

This is a special time when writers can share their writing with the whole class. It might be a completed piece. It might be a draft that the student wants help problem-solving. It’s a time when students learn to give and receive responses to one another’s writing in a public setting.

For more information on Writing Workshop, read Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi (2001, Heinemann), and check out the Heinemann Podcast to learn more about Writing Workshop and Ralph Fletcher’s work.