It would be a lovely thing if every day in Writing Workshop ran as smoothly as the descriptions in the books. You know how it should look - every child is excited to get down to work, anxious to diligently plan, write, conference, or revise a project. There are many days that go just like that. Pairs of students are focused in conversations about their writing, conferences are showing that your students are making leaps forward, and your students even beg for more time to spend on writing.
You feel that glow of success as you take a moment to look around your classroom, and you think, "Wouldn't it be nice if my principal stopped in right now?"
And then there are the other days. One child is working (again) on drawing dinosaurs for a book that he just can't seem to get writing, despite your gentle nudges-turned-to-sterner insistence. Two kids that are sitting with their writing in their hands look like they're conferencing, but your instincts tell you that's not what's really going on. Two have been out at the restroom for way too long. One girl is erasing with such vigor that she's making a hole in her page ("Just line it out, honey." -sigh! ) And at least four others are either looking at the ceiling tiles, staring out the window, or coming up to you saying, "I don't know what to write".
On those days, a gimmick is not a bad thing. Try gathering that group of students in need of an idea with this story clock or story cube. It's nothing fancy, and there are other ways to get your little writers going on the same topics as these, but, like I said, some days, a gimmick is not a bad thing.
As they spin the hand on the clock or roll the cube, and then take a few moments to talk about the connections they can make with the picture, it might be just what they needed to "unfreeze" their writing brains!
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