Given the three elements of the framework Hicks (2009) notes in Chapter 7-your students, the subject of writing, and the spaces in which we write-how would you describe these elements as they are currently present in your classroom and school? (If you are not currently teaching, think back to your last teaching assignment.) What do (did) you already have in place to begin your digital writing workshop? What else do (did) you need to develop in order to make your digital writing workshop successful?
The three elements presented in Chapter 7 are all apparent within the classrooms that I am currently in. I am doing field work at Victor Primary School in both 3rd grade, and 1st grade. Both grade levels have writing procedures and processes already set in place, and it is only the second week of school. Within the 3rd grade classroom, writing is the main focus of the morning. Students keep a journal that they write in everyday, and reflect upon. Their teacher gave them the choice to choose their own topics, which excited many of the students. The first step before writing however was the pre-writing/brainstorming stage. Students came up with a list of different topics that they were interested in, and brainstormed some key ideas and words about their topic. After students found ideas about what to write about, it was time for Turn and Talk. Turn and Talk is an activity focused on peer conferencing. Students picked a partner, sat hip to hip, made eye contact, and discussed what they were going to write about in their journals. I loved watching this activity happen, because the students were all engaged and actively listening to their partner.I have not yet had the opportunity of seeing the students write their stories in a word document on the computer, but that step with be coming later on. For many students, using Word Document or another word processing tool is extremely helpful. I noticed a little boy in 3rd grade who was having a lot of trouble keeping his words straight, and his words evenly spaced. For him, using word document would be beneficial for some activities.
It is important to design a comfortable classroom environment to make the digital writing workshop successful. I observed that students in 3rd grade were positioned all around the room during writer's workshop. They found a comfortable work space, that they thought was going to help them focus the best. There was maybe three or four children off task, but the rest of the students were diligently working independently. It is also important to give direct instruction on what is expected before introducing writer's workshop. The teacher I'm with in 3rd grade modeled the Turn and Talk method, and had students model it before actually doing it. This allowed for students to know exactly what they were supposed to be doing, and helped them stay on task. After watching a full lesson of writer's workshop, I got a better understanding of what takes place and is implemented during this time of the day. I will definitely be implementing some writing strategies that I have learned into my own writer's workshop some day.