Adventures in Writing Workshops

March 2022 – 

Writing is the worst. At least, that’s how many of our students see it. Errors on errors. Again, how so many see it. An endless task that is never ‘good enough.‘ Okay, I think you get the picture. Writing isn’t exactly a #1 hobby for most people or students. 

One big reason I switched to CI (comprehensible input) style instruction, or ADI (acquisition driven instruction) was the dropping of the perfectionist mentality. The dropping of pointing out errors. The end of “look at all these mistakes” and the swap for “look at all this amazingness.” This was a huge relief for me and my students. why? Because the goal is no longer perfection; the goal is communication and comprehension. 

So how does all of this tie into writing workshops for world language students? ALL THE WAYS! I currently work in a district that has a pre and post test for students at all levels of language classes (even level 1). Part of this pre and post test includes a writing assignment. *pause* even if your district doesn’t have this – I cannot recommend a pre and post writing test for your students enough. They, and you, will see all the growth and it’s an amazing feeling. *resume* This writing assignment is graded on a rubric based on ACTFL measures for vocabulary use, comprehension, and language control. While we don’t use the rubric during the year, my student do complete additional writing samples (free writes!) for me during the year and I work to incorporate lots of pieces of the rubric one at a time. 

My students have already shown so much growth in writing this year – at all levels! This year some of the things we’ve worked on providing input for to therefore increase our writing skills in are: conversation skills, asking and answering questions, using transition words, using a wide variety of past vocabulary to increase depth of writing, establishing a plot with a beginning, middle, and end to our writing, and more. Each piece was done throughout the year – but also targeted heavily. Now we are spending the week putting it all together in a writing workshop for students to drill down on their writing skills before our end of the year test. 

Here’s how it’s going to work: 

Monday (45 minutes): Students will complete a pre-writing activity as their warm-up, we will review the rubric that we are using for this activity, we will answer questions, we will remind ourselves of our success tips and don’t for writing, and they’ll write! My students LOVE to have a lot of time to write. It looks likes they’ll have between 20 – 30 minutes to write this day. The goal for students for this day is to write completely in Spanish and to hit 100 words. Advanced students will work on hitting all the pieces of the rubric. 

Tuesday (45 minutes): Students will complete a pre-feedback activity as their warm-up, we will review how to give honest / kind feedback, we will review the rubric again from a feedback perspective, and students will give feedback to about 4 other writing samples. My students have assigned numbers from my frequent use of Plickers, so they will write their number on their paper instead of their name. 

Wednesday (45 minutes): Students will complete a pre-revision activity reflecting on expected feedback (we are our own best way for growth!), we will review some key points for revisions and expanding our writing. Students will use the rest of the time to revise and expand their original writing sample. This is the day I’ll focus on students that were missing big chunks of the rubric and/or struggling with Spanish or 100 words. 

Thursday (45 minutes): Students will celebrate with a reflection on improvements to their draft #2 as a warm-up. Then we will repeat Tuesday! Feedback again. Students will have the option of meeting with me for a short time to ask questions and get high-level feedback or clarification as well. 

Friday (45 minutes): Students will plan for their final draft edits and improvements as a warm-up and will create a final version of their writing. 

Notes: During feedback I’m have students circle any words they don’t recognize / can’t understand. Why? Comprehension is KEY. Now, I do have some advanced students, and I will not punish them or keep them from using their skills – but if all 8/9 people giving them feedback don’t know what is happening, I will highly encourage them to make it more comprehensible and accessible. I’m also having students highlight the full sentence any time an English word is used. That sentence will no longer be graded or count to their word count. They’ll do the same thing with sentences that they can’t read. Why? For our end of year test, English word invalidate sentences, so this is a practice. Also because slowing down to write neatly is a life skill. 

Are you looking to try a writing workshop with your kids? Grab this week of slides / plans here! If you use these plans, share about it on Instagram and tag me: @profezulita 

Looking for writing prompt ideas to mix it up? Check out these writing prompts in my store!

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