Writers' Workshop

The purpose of Writer's Workshop is to help students draft, share, edit, and publish their writing. Teachers provide daily mini-lessons on ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.

The Role of the Educator is:

  • Work with whole class or small groups of students to provide general guidance on any aspects of writing 
  • Provide specific instruction on mini-lessons
  • Allow students to select their own topics with feedback from educators
  • Give individual conferences with writers, giving selected feedback 

Observers Will See:

  • Use of word walls, dictionaries, thesaurus, and other resources to help students write 
  • Use of words like ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions used by educators and students
  • Use of mini-lessons for honing the craft of writing
  • Examples of books written by the students displayed and celebrated

Writer's Workshop Overview 

All students participate in a writer's workshop process to help improve their writing. Here are the components of the workshop. (Schleper, 2002):

  1. First Draft:
    Each student writes about a topic that holds special interest to them. For some, this means drawing a picture. For others, it may be writing a complex story.

  2. Share With Class:
    Each student shares the writing with the class. As each student finishes sharing, the group queries the student about the writing. One person will write down the questions. This list of questions is later used by the writer to guide the revision.

  3. Second Draft:
    When the student finishes sharing, the student then begins working on the second draft.

  4. Content Conference:
    Once finished with the second draft, the student and educator meet for a content conference, where the educator reviews the writer's progress and may suggest additional improvements.

  5. Self-Edit:
    The student self-edits the piece, using forms developed by the educator.

  6. Editing Conference with Educators:
    After self-editing, the student puts the writing in an editing box. The educator reads through the piece, highlighting the positive aspects as well as those needing improvements. Together, the educator and student meet, discuss what works and what needs work, and then the student makes necessary changes to the story.

  7. Prepare for Publishing:
    The student composes the writing, including a "dedication" and an "about the author" section. The whole piece is then typed on a computer.

  8. Publish the Book:
    The student binds their book, shares it with the class, and shares it with parents and caregivers. During the daily writer's workshop, educators and students participate in:
    • Mini-Lessons (10 minutes) on techniques for writing 
    • Writing (30 minutes) for all, while educators observe and have conference with students 
    • Sharing (10 minutes) where students shared what they are working on

For more information about Writer's Workshop, click on the topic of interest below:

  1. Writers' Workshop at KDES and MSSD (PDF)

  2. Good Books to Get Started (PDF)

  3. First Draft and Share (PDF)

  4. Second Draft (revision!) (PDF)

  5. Feedback (PDF)

  6. Content Conference (PDF)

  7. Editing (PDF)

  8. Mini-lessons (PDF)

  9. About the Author and Dedication (PDF)

  10. Publishing (PDF)

  11. Forms for Writers' Workshop (PDF)

  12. Genres (PDF)

  13. Writing in Action (PDF)

  14. Best Practice in Teaching Writing (PDF)


6 + 1 Traits for Writing

At the Clerc Center, the 6+1 Traits Writing Framework is used for an analytic scoring system and to develop mini-lessons. The 6+1 Trait Writing Framework, developed by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory in Portland, Oregon, is a powerful way to learn and use a common language to refer to characteristics of writing, as well as create a common vision of what "good writing" looks like. The traits include:

  • Ideas -the content of the piece, the main theme along with the details that enrich and develop that theme.

  • Organization-the internal structure, the thread of central meaning.

  • Voice-the author's feelings, humor, and emotions regarding the subject written. The author includes a personal tone that distinguishes the piece from others.

  • Word choice-the use of rich, colorful, precise language that moves and enlighten the reader.

  • Sentence fluency-variety and rhythm in the writing. The writing is free of awkward word patterns that slow or confuse the reader.

  • Conventions-little details such as spelling, punctuation, paragraph indentation, capitalization, grammar, and word usage that make the piece work.

  • Presentation-includes a nice, clean, clear piece that is pleasing and attractive to the reader. 

For Kindergarten through Grade 2
6+1 Assessment for Beginning Writers, Page 1 (PDF)
6+1 Assessment for Beginning Writers, Page 2 (PDF)

For Grades 3 though 12
6+1 One Pager (Advanced), Page 1 (PDF)
6+1 One Pager (Advanced), Page 2 (PDF)

Good Places to Get Started

For more information about the 6+1 Trait Writing Framework, visit the following Web sites:

Wired instructor Six Traits Links

Good Books for Teaching 6 + 1 Traits in the Classroom (PDF)

For Mini-Lesson Information:
Atwell, N. Lessons That Change Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, c2002.

Culham, R. Picture Books: An Annotated Bibliography with Activities for Teaching Writing. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, c1998.

Dierking, C. C., and Jones, S. Growing Up Writing: Mini-Lessons for Emergent and Beginning Writers. NY: Maupin House Publishers, c2003.

Fletcher, R., and Portalupi, J. Craft Lessons: Teaching Writing K-8. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, c1998.

Hoyt, L. Snapshots: Literacy Minilessons Up Close. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, c2000.

Lane, B. After the End: Teaching and Learning Creative Revision. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, c1993.

Portalupi, J., and Fletcher, R. Nonfiction Craft Lessons: Teaching Information Writing, K-8. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, c2001.

Supportive Research and Descriptive Literature

Atwell, N. In the Middle: Writing, Reading, and Learning with Adolescents. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, c1987.

Culham, R. 6+1 Traits of Writing. NY: Scholastic, c2003.

Fisher, S. The Writer's Workshop. Washington, DC: Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University, c1994.

Schleper, D. R. "Writer's workshop: I-Chun "Eugene" Shih=Brave student." Odyssey, 1:2, (Spring 2000), 23-26.

Spandel, V. Creating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction. New York: Addison Wesley Longman Publishers, c2001.

Clerc Center Resources

"Writer's workshop: Neely "Calling Up Literacy" Odyssey (Spring 2000) (PDF)

Web Resources


Young Author's Workshop


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