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basketball777 09-11-2020 10:00 PM

Writer’s workshop question as a parent/teacher
My daughter is doing full time virtual school right now, everyone in the district etc.

They use Writer’s Workshop. Her teacher originally said students should be able to “plan” & write 1 story per day. She has later retracted it to a story in 1-2 days. This is with her saying writing at least 20 minutes per day. I’m just wondering if this is typical in Writer’s Workshop? I believe students are all different levels with different abilities. Some will write stories faster and longer than others. I just feel it’s like the teacher’s mindset, one size fits all.

So my daughter is a somewhat lower student(at least compared to many advanced students at her somewhat affluent school). Depending on how much she writes for each page of the story, & how detailed she is, and also how good her planning sketches are, it can take her longer to write a story. This is with her writing usually Longer than 20 minutes even. One story was very good, very detailed, very long with great took 5 days to plan and write. It was a topic she was really into, so her story was longer. And the sketches were good(usually her drawings are not that developed). The next week she wrote a long story in 2.5 days.(simple sketches) She planned and wrote a shorter story(just 1 to 3 sentences per page) with really simple sketches in 1.5 days. Simple meaning it looks like stick figures with little kid drawings(almost scribbles, each pic almost looks exactly the same etc).

My daughter has anxiety and I don’t want to pressure her to work faster. She’s working as quickly as she can for her quality work. Of course spelling & periods etc for her is atrocious and the teacher says not to help correct anything until later... In kindergarten she had major writers block and barely wrote anything..(like sometimes just a word or a sentence).... I did work with her a lot at home to try to get some finished pieces or practice writing etc.. so I do think she’s behind developmentally in writing. In first grade she grew in her writing....grew out of the writers block(at first would only pick the same topic every time in narrative) & now the ideas and writing flow to her well. I helped her last year with distance learning to add transition words etc.

However I just really disagree with this teacher’s repeated statements that students should have a story planned & written daily or every 1-2 days. (They are required to do touch & tell, sketching, key words etc for planning first). In 20 minutes (or over)she can get her planning done....maybe start a first page. Sometimes only 3 out 4 pages planned. Then it takes a day or two to write the story.

I just believe it’s going to vary by how long/detailed the kid wants to be and how into their story the kid is. Vary by the topic etc. Also some kids work faster, others slower. Some kids are much more advanced students as well who are going to bust out a story quickly. (And yes my DD had an SST in kinder for writing/speech/anxiety concerns that I requested and they said nothing was wrong, just maybe slower with learning/achieving/reaching milestones.)

I’d like to say something politely to the teacher about this expectation. She has a survey she put out about virtual learning. Should I mention it? I would hope if she understood my DD’s background She’d realize my daughter is writing at her ability/pace as best as she can! Also I used to teach second & third grade and I know it’s not one size fits all and not all kids are going to finish writing pieces at the same pace as other kids...... This teacher’s expectation is just really bothering me. My daughter wrote 3 stories in 9 days. If you go off the teacher’s expectation she should have 5-9 stories. Unrealistic for my daughter.

Keltikmom 09-12-2020 08:05 AM

Writers workshop
Could you say what grade this is?

If I read your post correctly, they should have a completed story every other day, but only write for 20 minutes? That is insane. It might, I stress might, work if you do all the planning in your head ahead of time, then write like a fiend for 20 minutes.

You taught Writer’s Workshop and we’re trained, I assume. You know this is not how the program works. Personally, I would talk with the teacher and frankly state your “misconceptions” regarding her expectations. That given your professional experience, 20 minutes isn’t enough time. I would definitely ask her how she settled on this time frame.

Then, if she insists on the 20 minutes, tell her your dd is struggling mightily. That she is capable of producing a story, just needs more time.

basketball777 09-12-2020 11:01 AM

Nope it’s not the sketching...I told you how my daughter has way below grade level sketches to begin with and she does do them fast....they are almost scribbles.. .. one time she made them a little better(a little more detail to remember the story), but that’s due to her story which was longer and more detailed. She wrote a very detailed, long had to do with her Nutcracker recital and so she was really into the topic.... it may have been that she also had to add Multiple “key words” to the sketches for the first time that skill... I know when I’ve used WW, the kids had at least half an hour to write, writer conferences, & kids didn’t finish stories so fast...

My first thought would be sketching for other kids, but as I said she does them really quickly to begin with and they are mostly scritch scratch. We don’t color either....

I have been trained in writers workshop(back in my student teaching days when it wasn’t a popular curriculum) and used it....but not this exact program(I don’t think) may have been based off of Calkins tho.. Also districts I’ve worked in full time never had WWorkshop as a curriculum they bought.... I have used this one in districts I’ve subbed in.

Also this teacher says they have to sketch/plan/keyword the WHOLE story, each page, before they can start the story at all...l I think it would be reasonable to expect a story daily if they had a whole hour Or 45 minutes...but like I said this teacher says “20 mins” and my kid does over that.....

Also if you know my kid’s background, you’ll realize she’s doing good for her and what she’s capable of....she used to get writing anxiety etc.

Also when I have used Writer’s workshop depending on the kid and their writing capability as well as the topic and how detailed or long the story is, kids will finish at different rates. That’s part of how it differentiates per student.

basketball777 09-12-2020 11:04 AM

Keltikmom yes the teacher says “we write for 20 minutes” my kid does that or longer.... and it’s second grade. However my kid is definitely one of the lowest kids in the class I’d say, but it’s also cuz most kids are advanced at this school.... she was considered right at grade level (tho seemed low to me)last March.... And as I said she used to struggle with writing, so she’s come a long long way....

EarthMonkey 10-09-2020 09:57 PM

It depends on what is expected, if it is a one or two page story of four to maybe 8 lines, the more able writing children could easily do it in 2 days of 20-30 minute writing time, that would not be the case for most kids though. But it would not be the final publishing of the story, it would be first draft and no added details and rechecking of the work. However struggling kids whether through idea generating or because of being a beginning writer would not produce much in 1-2 days.

I would just turn in what your child has done, don't worry about it and add more stuff later to the story. The worst that happens is your daughter gets a lower grade in writing, but a more in depth growth in her writing ability. Also if the teacher is pretty new to teaching second she may not know, or it may be in the classroom she is good at dragging the kids forward in writing and is finding it hard to switch expectations. I think it would be good to talk to her, this might be a general "here is a optimistic hope rather than a must do."

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