Multiage Writing Workshop
by Kim Oldenburgh
In January of 1998 Kim Oldenburgh posted on the national multiage listserve
a description of her writing workshop. It is a fantastic way
to structure a writing program in a primary multiage classroom.
With her permission I have reposted it here.
do a writing workshop with my 1-2-3 multiage. They all work independently
on self chosen topics. Each day, I do a mini-lesson (usually
about 5-15 minutes) about a topic that I have observed from students
writing that needs to be addressed. Examples of my latest mini-lessons:
using a friend's name and I or me. Many were writing me
and John went to the store, so we made a chart of how to use
I and me and always have your friends name first. Another day,
we did a minilesson on using was and were. Others: commas
in a series, using a and an, capitalization rules, punctuation,
paragraphs, good leads, story maps, using a thesaurus, etc............
After the mini-lesson they each go wherever they want to in
the room to write, many prefer a clipboard and the rug, some
go to tables. The olders have to show me their story map before
they proceed with their story - this allows me to guide them
through their story and it allows them to tell their story before
they actually write it.
When they finish their stoies, usually they work on one story
for a week or so, they have to conference with a buddy before
they can come to me. When they buddy conference, they take 3
post-it notes. Their buddy has to write 1 good thing about their
story on 1 and 2 wishes on the other 2. The author has to try
to incorporate 1 wish before conferencing with me. When they
are ready to conference with me, they have to be able to tell
me what they need from me, and all words that they are sure are
not dictionary spelling must be circled. I usually do a revision
conference, then after they revise, I do an editing conference,
they publish their story - many like a book form, then they share
with their classmates.
We do writing for one hour each day, and most days it begins
with the mini-lesson, they write for about 45-50 minutes, then
they all share what they have written that day - this gives the
other students an opportunity to give them feedback. They seem
to respect their peers' ideas.
The youngers have a small frame that they plan their story
with. It is a paper with 3 boxes on it and 3 lines by each box.
In the boxes, they draw what will happen first, second, and last.
They also write a few words beside their drawing to remind them
what they have drawn. They go through the same writing process
as the olders do.
When I am not conferencing, I am roaming the room with my
clipboard and sticky notes, I have kids read me what they have
written and somedays I am able to jot down some quick observations
- that's where my mini-lessons come from, I can also get mini-lesson
ideas from their sharing time.
Some weeks, I have them fill out skill sheets to be sure they
are not "slacking off" with their conventions. They
have sheets at their level and they have to check off their writing
that they did that day. A 1st grader's skills sheet looks something
like this right now:
I wrote at least 4 sentences,
I used capital letters at the beginning of my sentences and for
all proper nouns,
I used punctuation,
Extras: I used quotation marks to show people talking,
I used rich language.
They also have a space on the bottom for Friday that says:
This is what I noticed about my writing this week__________,
and next week I can work on _____________.
Sometimes students are required to write in a certain genre,
but most of the time, each student is writing about their own
topic, their choice. I love writing time, choice allows my students
to progress at their own level.