I had to smile yesterday during our writers workshop.
In one corner, two students sat with a para and finished writing their planning pages (using a graphic organizer that eventually will serve them by helping them conceptualize paragraphs better when it’s time to publish).
A group of three (one on the computer) sat with me working through the first editing checklist of their academic careers. Two of the girls in my group typically struggle in writing, but they had a purpose with that checklist! Mechanically, their writing in this unit is better than it’s been in the two years I’ve known them.
To the left, occupying an entire table, six students sat with laptops. They worked at typing their persuasive reviews, supported by the aforementioned graphic organizers and my visual reminders to hit return at the end of a paragraph (see the blue) and tab at the beginning (see the pink). A seventh student used my iPad to type his review. He was confused by the locations of the return and tab buttons, so I showed him that, just like how I had written it on his paper, return was on the right and tab was on the left. No issues from then on.
This all sounds pretty mundane, but considering the different phases of the unit that students are at, it’s not mundane at all. Realize, some students are already finished typing and others are just wrapping up their handwritten work. Had you walked into the room during writers, though, you would have seen a well-oiled workshop. No one was left without something to do (even my first finisher chose to read when done). Everyone was involved without the pressure of worrying about where in the process their peers were. It is wonderful to see independence coming out…and great work, as well.