August 16

Term 1 until now!

Arghhh! I am so embarrassed my last post was in March. Where has the time gone? So much has happened since my last post so I will try and fill you all in!

Term 1

Our following mini lessons back in Term 1 were… How to get a Publishing Lanyard, Conferencing, Colouring in and Grammar with Ms Margy.

As a class we discussed what makes a quality published book. I then introduced our publishing lanyards and we brainstormed these quality features in our floor book. I explained to our students that we might add to this list as we learn more about the crafts of writing.

By mid Term 1, conferencing was well under way, but a mini lesson was needed to establish some group norms for conferencing as I was constantly being interrupted. We decided that everyone deserved uninterrupted conferencing time whether it be with Julie, Marcia or Mary our EALD support teacher. We brainstormed and recorded our norms around conferencing and found since having this discussion conferencing became much easier.

Following up from our mini lesson about what makes a quality published book; a mini lesson was needed around what good colouring in looks like. I had noticed many students rushing to get their illustrations finished and not putting in 100% effort. I began this lesson by demonstrating scribbly colouring of one of my pictures and then coloured in a copy of the same picture in carefully and neatly. I asked the students to discuss with the person next to them which picture they liked better and why. This discussion was then fed back to the whole group and recorded in our floor book. I asked students if they had an example of good colouring in, to share it with me so we could celebrate it in our floor book.

Ms Margy our Assistant Principal continued to come in once a week until the end of Term 1 to work with mine and Marcia’s classes, to discuss and explore all things grammar. We had discussions around what verbs, adjectives and nouns were and participated in many activities such as finding the verbs in sentences, using capital letters for nouns of places and people and adding adjectives to our writing to make our writing more interesting.

Term 2

Marcia and I decided we would have a Non -Fiction focus in Term 2, particularly to meet the needs of our year 2 students. This genre tied in really well with our Science topic for the term which was “Living Things”. To begin this topic we asked the students what a non-fiction book is? Together on our interactive whiteboard through our Reading Eggs account we read our mentor text “Frogs” by Gary Underwood. We then brainstormed all the features we noticed in this book, labeling them in our floor book to be able to reference at a later date.

We then decided as we had some live tadpoles in our building to link in with our Science topic we would get all of our students to write a frog book. We encouraged students to use the features of non fiction books that we had observed in Gary Underwood’s book. We decided this time to deliberately take the topic choice away from the students so they could become familiar with writing non-fiction texts without the pressure of them having to source information as well as write in a new format. After rereading Gary Underwood’s Reading Eggs Frog book we brainstormed all the things you would find in a frog book. All students then began their frog books focusing only on front covers, back covers and content’s pages. 

Marcia and I thought it was important to expose students to the term “bibliography”. We explained to our students this is where you record where you sourced your information from. We all added Gary Underwood’s Frog book to our bibliography. We also discussed during this time, the importance of putting facts you read into your own words and not copying from texts as this is illegal.

These frog books proved to be very time consuming and at times stressful. During this time we really struggled to conference with students and check in with students about what they were up to outside of mini-lessons and quick debriefing times. A lot of time for us was sucked up finding information about frogs on ipads, loading the Reading Eggs’ mentor text and troubleshooting technical problems. After asking for some advice through our Writing Inquiry group, it was suggested that other people start non- fiction texts with topics that the kids are really familiar with, in the form of a how to book. After this was pointed out to us, this made so much sense and this was our next direction.

Marcia and I soon introduced the students to the concept of how to books. We began this lesson with a simple discussion asking our students what things do you know how to do really well? We then said in the famous words of Matt Glover “you could write a book about that”. This would be a how to book, it would teach us how to do something and can be a procedure of small steps.

After our inital discussion we asked our students to pick one thing that they were really good at and write it inside a bubble in their ideas book. We then demonstrated how you could have lines coming off of that bubble with all the steps of how to do that particular thing and in turn asked the students to go back and plan their how to books using this planning method.

We noticed student engagement rise again once we moved from the frog books to the how to books with the return of student choice within topic. We also noticed how much more time we had to get back to conferencing. I am not sure how I would do this next time, I think maybe I would do this in reverse and start with the how to books and then move on to the non-fiction information texts. I suppose for me, it felt in those first few weeks of Term 2 that we weren’t really doing Writer’s Workshop in its true form. We were just doing “research” during bookmaking time. Maybe when tackling this type of writing again it would have to be writing about an experience or the research component would be done during a different time and would then integrate into Writer’s Workshop?

Term 3

We are currently 4 weeks into term 3 and our focus for this term has been persuasive texts. We began this spotlight genre study by using Mo Willems’ “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” We asked the students to notice as I read to pay particular attention to what the pigeon is doing. Our students discussed this with the person next to them before brainstorming with the wider group all the things they noticed. They pointed out the pigeon was trying to convince us, force us, beg us and persuade us to let him drive the bus. We explained this type of writing is persuasive writing. Students recorded their noticings into their ideas books.

We then posed the question, what if we borrowed Mo Willems’ idea from this book and had our own “Don’t let the — Drive the —” creating an innovation on text by changing the animal and the transport? What could we think of? what could drive the what? This created a lot of excitement, laughter and mad recording of ideas. We then asked students to choose their favourite idea to become their next book.

Marcia then found this great YouTube clip on what is persuasive writing. We showed this to our kids to reinforce that persuasive writing does not always have to be Pigeon books.

Our final mini lesson to date has been around brainstorming persuasive topics about things that we feel, think or believe strongly about. We shared these orally and these will be the stimulus for our next bookmaking books.

That now brings you up to date with the things that have been happening in our Writer’s Workshop lessons. I hope sharing our journey has been helpful.

Happy Writing!


March 8

New Year, New Kids, New Blog Post

2018 has already brought me so much change. I have had a change in year level and have moved from teaching year 1s to now teaching year 1/2s. I have lost my amazing co teacher Danni not only to another class but to another school (I’m so very sad but, so, so happy for her!), I have a good friend Kellie co teaching our class on my day off and I also have had the challenge of keeping some of my students from last year. Some things have stayed the same though, I am still working next door to my work bestie Marcia and we are continuing to challenge each other and team teach to bring out the best in ourselves and the best in our students. We are also super lucky that our other neighbor Lynley has year 1’s this year and we are working more collaboratively with her.

When planning for Writer’s Workshop this year, Marcia and I were extremely mindful we were keeping approximately 10 students and we wanted to ensure that we took into account their prior knowledge as well as catering for the needs of our new bookmaking students.

In 2017 we were inspired by Angela and Sharon from our Writer’s Workshop inquiry group and their “Ideas Book” that they used with their students. We trialed this last year but I don’t think utilized it to its full potential. We said to ourselves we would use it better this year and we already have. We introduced the Ideas Book during our very first Writer’s Workshop lesson. We brainstormed knee to knee and then as a large group what is an author and wrote down all the things we knew.  Instead of brainstorming this on large butcher paper as we have in the past our students brainstormed this into their own “Ideas Book”. I then photocopied some of their ideas to collate into a page in my floor book.

After this initial brainstorm, Marcia and I gave our students a blank book with a pink cover and asked them to be an author. We didn’t give them any other instructions but this. Like previous years, this book has become our raw data sample of what our students could do in the second week of year 1 or year 2. We have filed this book away in our student record folders to refer to and compare to future bookmaking at a later date.

Making the decision to begin a new floor book was a decision I didn’t take lightly. I had put a lot of work into my floor book in 2017 and used it consistently with my kids but at the end of the day my current students didn’t own it and I wasn’t sure if their journey would be the same considering I had year 2’s in my class to cater for.

The following lesson saw another entry into our idea’s book. We posed the question “what could you write a book about?” again, we had the students chat with their neighbour about what they could write about and then we asked the students to write or draw as many ideas as possible into their books in 10 minutes. After 10 minutes Marcia asked the students to stop, stand up and go and share the ideas they had recorded with two people. The students were then given another 5 minutes to record some more ideas that maybe they hadn’t thought of. I also copied some of these ideas for our class floor book. When our students had finished their brainstorm they continued on with their pink books.



Writer’s Workshop lessons for the next couple of weeks consisted of us letting the students just write and draw in their initial books without too much influence or input from us. As more and more students “finished” their pink books and moved on to their second books we had a mini lesson on the features of books. Students browsed lots of different types of books. After browsing time we discussed as a whole group what they noticed and then moved off to record their noticings in their ideas books.

These features of books were revisited with a focus on picture books using a mentor text and my floor book during the next lesson. We asked the students whether they thought they would need to have these features on their books for them to be finished, and they agreed that they would. Previously Marcia and I would give the students a publishing lanyard saying they had published a book when they had finished. This year we have decided that not every book would get one. We agreed that to get one, students would have had to have made attempts on working on their strategies and have also incorporated elements of our mini lessons in their bookmaking. We also thought if no attempt was made after a nudge or a bit of encouragement a “finished” label would just go inside the front cover with the date. This will help us keep track of how many books are being made, how much effort is being put in and whether students are responding to the nudge of what to work on next.

In previous years our mini lessons were based around a focus author’s of the month. We have found this to be a great way of immersing our students in lots of quality books and expose them to many different authors and their craft’s. We thought Julia Donaldson was a great author to begin this year with as not only does she have some amazing books; some of our students are having difficulty in producing and recognising rhyme. To begin this lesson we borrowed as many Julia Donaldson books as we could from our school library. In pairs, the students looked at a various Julia Donaldson books before sharing with the whole group what they noticed. Marcia and I recorded these in our floor book with the true examples they found in the books they were browsing. A copy of this was then glued into our student’s ideas book.


This term Marcia and I have also been fortunate enough for Margy our Assistant Principal and EALD expert come in and work with us for one lesson per week. Margy posed the question to our students “what is a sentence” to which our students shared with her what they knew. Margy then explained to our students what a verb was and said to them “if you don’t have a verb in your sentence, then it is not a sentence”. We then spent about 5 minutes in groups looking at different sentences and picking out the verbs. During our writing time we asked the students to focus on the verbs in their sentences and share them during share time at the end of our lesson.


Last year we had our students illustrate an alphabet frieze to replace our commercial one and I made alphabet sound cards from these illustrations which our kids regularly used. During the first week of us implementing Writer’s Workshop we laminated copies of these for our students but we found within a week or so of them having them that they weren’t using them very well and some of them seemed to be confused by some of the illustrations. We wondered if this was because they did not create or own them. We decided we would have our current students illustrate their own sound cards to replace the copies from last year in the hope they would use them more as they would have a greater connection to them. Here is a sample of them. We were pretty impressed with what they created.

One of our last mini lessons to date was around conferencing and strategy cards. We discussed with the students that during writing time Marcia and I would be conferencing with individual students. We explained this would mean we would be listening to students read their books, looking for things that are great in their books and giving students strategies to  make their books even better. These strategies to work on will be given to our students during our conferencing sessions in the form of our wonderful Danni’s strategy cards. We really could not run Writer’s Workshop without these. Each student will have their own personalised strategy cards that they will keep on a ring in their Writer’s Workshop folder to refer to during writing time.

(You can purchase them here if you are interested )

It has been an extremely busy start to the year. I think I have captured most things we have touched on. Hope it’s helpful for those of you reading along! I have made it my goal to write more regularly this year, so I promise, promise, promise, I will write again very soon.

Happy writing!








November 20

Writer’s Workshop Continues…

A few weekends ago, Danni, Marcia and I were at our last Writer’s Workshop study group for the year when someone asked me if I had written on my blog lately. I quickly apologized and said I had been in Japan for the last 3 weeks of term 3. Which on reflection was a rubbish excuse for not having written here as I’ve been home for 7 weeks now and still haven’t wrapped up what we did in term 3. So here I am…

We usually begin the month or term with an author study but in term 3 we began with the 2017 shortlisted Book Week books. We spent time reading and critiquing both the Author’s and Illustrator’s crafts in these books in the lead up to Book Week and also integrated these books into other learning areas.

We loved the detailed pictures and use of colour in “Gary” Written and Illustrated by Leila Rudge. We spent time also discussing the movement in the pictures of the pigeons and also the placement of the words on the pages.

The students made immediate connections to the illustrations in “Go Home, Cheeky Animals!” by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley. They loved the simplicity to the pictures and we focused on how even though the pictures were clear and simple they we’re coloured with care which helped to make them stand out and look finished. This book was also a good one to revisit big and bold and to teach speech and speech marks.

We also noticed the big and bold in “Chip” written and Illustrated by Kylie Howarth. We discussed that some pages were filled entirely of an illustration with lots of detail in the setting and the characters whilst other pages consisted of smaller pictures of an event in the story and were surrounded by text.

Sally Heinrich came to visit our year 1 and 2 students during Book Week. She shared her story of becoming an illustrator and author and chatted with the students about her latest illustrated book “Papa Sky” written by Jane Jolly. She explained to the students how she went about creating the character Papa Sky and how it took her a long time to finalise her character after drawing him in many ways.  Sally showed the students some of her dummy books and gave them insight into how often her illustrations and stories are inspired by personal experiences, people she knows or places she’s been. She showed the students real photographs of real landscapes that she used to inspire her own illustrations and told the students that if she is unsure about what she is writing or drawing about she does research to help her.

Our take away from our third Book Making Inquiry Group session was inspired by Angela and Sharon who are part of our study group.  They were kind enough to share their “ideas book” and how they use it with the junior primary students in their classes. We went back to school the following week and gave our students their very own ideas book. Danni and Marcia introduced this book to our students explaining it was a place to record ideas (words and or pictures) that we could then draw upon if we were struggling for ideas when bookmaking. Our student’s first entry in this book was brainstorming ideas about our guest author Sally Heinrich. On reflection, we haven’t used this ideas book as well as we had hoped this year but it is something we will definitely introduce to our students at the beginning of next year.

The next highlight of term 3 was when Katie the facilitator of our Bookmaking Inquiry Group came to visit us at work. Katie came just before Writer’s Workshop time in both mine and Marcia’s classes and had the pleasure of seeing our mini lessons, our students bookmaking and our share time to finish. Marcia and I then spent some time with Katie to discuss what she had observed and any advice to improve what she had seen. We asked Katie for some advice on share time/ reflection time as we feel this is where we need the most help. Katie suggested we try sharing circles once a week to begin with in which you could ask students… who has an example of…? (a particular strategy/ text feature) Who can help me with an idea?… (Feed-forward) or even what have you been working on today?… We have been trying to ensure we schedule this into our program to make sure we do it, otherwise we find it is something we tend to overlook or miss.

The remainder of the term’s mini lessons were spent focusing on Non-Fiction texts. Danni ran the initial mini lesson with our class in which the students spent time exploring non-fiction books and looking for the features they had in common.

I then created my own non-fiction text called “Keeping Clean”. Before opening the book, I showed the students the cover and asked them to make a prediction about what would be inside this book. We had responses that consisted of content and features. I then read the book to the students and asked them to “feed-forward” and give me some ideas about what I could write about next in my book. The students were confident in rattling off many things ideas about keeping clean such as washing hair, brushing teeth, cleaning faces, using towels etc… I asked them if my next page could be about frogs, and they laughed at me and said no. I asked why not? and they said because it doesn’t match the title. Which brought us back to the strategy make sure your words and pictures match!

Since running these mini lessons, we have had many students wanting to create their own non -fiction books which has been great. Our students are using the technical language of contents pages, page numbers, photographs and information. We are also hearing students discussing these features in books they are reading too! Hooray!! Transference!!!

So that finally wraps up Term 3! I promise my next post wont take as long!








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August 17

Our Writer’s Workshop Journal

Danni and I have a A3 floor book in our class that documents our mini lessons and is available on our bookshelf for students to browse through if they feel the need. We use our journal to record new mini lesson concepts and also to review mini lessons from the past. We began the year recording these lessons with enthusiasm and now as I look back through, I feel that we have “forgotten” to record some of our learning experiences. Nonetheless, we have pages in there that we haven’t shared yet so here goes.

We began term 2 with yet another author study. Julia Donaldson was our author for the month of May. We began this lesson by exploring Julia Donaldson books and sharing what we noticed.

Onomatopoeia was one of our next mini lessons. I read Julia Donaldson’s book “The Flying Bath” and explained to the students when authors use sound words in their writing such as “splish, splosh!”, “thump, thump!” and “sprinkle, sprinkle” this is called onomatopoeia. We practiced saying the word and I encouraged students to have a go in their own books.

The students noticings lead us to our next minilesson. Some students noticed that some of the books we had been reading had writing on the back. I explained to the students that this was called the blurb and its job is to tell the reader what the story is going to be about. We then explored some of the books we had been reading lately and noticed that some blurbs also had matching pictures near them. Some students then mimicked what they had noticed and practiced this feature in their own book.

We had noticed some of our students had been attempting to add speech into their bookmaking so Danni facilitated the next mini lesson with a focus on speech bubbles in stories. Alison Lester’s “I’m Green and I’m Grumpy” is a fantastic text to explore this feature and since exploring this mini lesson we have noticed students using this feature with increasing accuracy to help add more detail to their stories.

Our next mini lesson stemmed from a teaching point that came out of a conference with one of my girls. I noticed that this student was only writing one or two simple sentences per page but was quite competent in being able to write more. I showed her in our conference how to add more information into her sentences to create heavy sentences by modelling in my own book. After doing so, I asked her to try and make some of her sentences heavy. She went away and immediately added more information to every page, creating heavy sentences and a story that had much more substance. I was so proud of her! I asked her if she would be happy to share her book with the class at the end of the session and she agreed. When sharing I asked her to read her book how she had first written it and then asked her to read it with the changes. I asked the students which version they thought was better. Everyone agreed that the book sounded better with the heavy sentences. The next day we revisited the concept of heavy sentences and I used my book “Turtle’s Party” as the simulus. Before our lesson I had written some pretty basic sentences into my book and then asked the students what could I add in to make it sound better. I then used a texta to edit my writing to create heavy sentences with the student’s help.

When writing our reports last term we noticed as part of the Australian curriculum, students in year one need to understand the terms characters and setting. We use these terms regularly but admittedly had not specifically taught these terms. We thought for this mini lesson we would stray away from our author study and used the traditional story “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.  Since teaching this mini lesson we make a conscious attempts to add discussion around charaters and setting when reading other books.

Alison Lester was our new author of the month for June and we began this author study as we have others throughout the year. We spent time exploring, reading and noticing her books. We then brainstormed our noticings.

Capital letters and full stops was our next mini lesson. This is something we discuss and model at least weekly in Word Work and are constantly “reminding” students to use them. (Which as Matt Glover says is totally ineffective). We have seen some transfer of knowledge around the correct use of full stops and capitals from Word Work to Writer’s Workshop but thought it wouldn’t hurt to run some mini lessons around these conventions. Marcia did this by writing a passage with no capitals or full stops on the white board and demonstrating how to add these in. The next day we repeated this same activity in our mini lesson but this time using the next pages in my book “Turtle’s Party”. We now encourage students to use an editing pen to add in capital letters and full stops when they have finished writing their books.

I have lots more to tell you, but that’s all for today! Sorry it’s been so long between posts! Hopefully I’ll be in touch again very soon.

Happy Writing!


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July 5

Matt Glover comes to Adelaide

Arghh!! What can I say? Where do I start? What an amazing day of training.  My wonderful colleagues, Marcia and Danni and I had been looking forward to seeing Matt Glover since our tickets were bought back in March and it did not disappoint.

There were lots of take aways from the day as well as lots of validations that we are doing some things really well. I loved hearing about doing things ‘ishly’ and the importance of honouring approximations and then gently nudging, nudge, by nudge, by nudge.

I had a bit of an ah-ha moment when Matt Glover talked about composition and conventions. Especially when he discussed the notion that your ability to compose is what helps you write beautiful pieces of writing. This made me reflect on my practice and realise that even though composition often outweighs conventions for beginning writers I think I put a lot of pressure on my students to work on their writing conventions more than their composition.

Stories Vs Lists was my next take away. I had never thought about books being sorted into these two categories however, since attending the training I am beginning to subconsciously sort them. Before this training I also had this misconception that those kids that were writing list books over and over again needed to learn how to write a “story”. I now see that its ok that kids write list books and list books don’t necessarily mean they are simple books or books that are less superior to stories.

What’s in your stack and teaching during conferencing using your stack of mentor texts was probably my biggest take away for the day and my biggest area for growth. To be honest, I was in awe watching the videos of Matt Glover conferencing with a child and then being able to pull out his well used mentor texts to address that child’s particular needs in what seemed like seconds. I immediately thought “I can’t do that, I’ve got too many books in my stack, I don’t know my mentor books that well and where do I get myself a non-fiction book like that about frogs”… So during these upcoming holidays I think I really need to do some thinking into what kind of stack I need next term, and some research and reading of books to condense my stack and make it more manageable.

I had also thought I’d been conferencing pretty well, I knew what books the kids were working on, I knew what writing strategy they were working on and I was touching base with all of my students fortnightly if not weekly. But after listening to Matt, I realised the thing that was missing from my great conferencing was the teaching point. I had been doing lots of reminding or telling the students what they could do next in their book or work on or improve but, most of the time I had been leaving out the teaching element. So, when I was back in the classroom the following week, I set myself a goal to try this out. I hadn’t refined my stack however I did have a book that I had been writing and thought that would be my initial go to book. The girl that was my first guinea pig was a girl that had gone from writing random strings of letters to writing phonemically correct words using a sound card in a term. Unfortunately the book she was reading to me was a finished book, this is not really where I like to see the kids during conferencing but I was rolling with it anyway. I noticed throughout the whole book she had random capital letters throughout her words (I know, I know, a convention not a composition point, but it was where I initially felt comfortable) and I pointed this out to her. I explained to her that capital letters are something we use at the beginning of a sentence or for the name of something. I then asked her if it was ok if I wrote a page in my own book quickly and teach her how to fix it. She was keen and I quickly scribed a couple of sentences in my book with some random capitals letters. I then asked her to help me find the capitals that were in the wrong spots and using a pen I corrected them. After showing her this, I suggested she get a pen and try doing what I did. Within 5 minutes she had been back through her whole book and had edited the incorrect capitals into lowercase letters. For me this was so powerful and her and her book became the discussion point in our share time at the end of the lesson.

I felt really validated about student choice and feel that this is something we do extremely well. I also felt really good about the writing workshop structure that Matt discussed and thought we were on point with the timings he suggested and the elements involved. For me, sharing time is something I continue to need improvement in despite understanding the value and importance of it. Unfortunately it just seems to drop off most days and I know I need to be more conscious of using this time to consolidate teaching points using student’s writing.

So in conclusion the day left me feeling energised and excited. We had been left with areas for growth within our delivery and we also felt great about those things we are doing well.  If you ever get the chance to listen to Matt Glover please do yourself a favour and do it! You wont regret it.



June 12

Where has the time gone?

I often feel like the days drag on but the weeks seem to fly by. So much seems to have happened in writer’s workshop since my last post including meeting up with the study group, continuing on with our normal day to day writer’s workshop program, moderating writing samples ready to write reports and running training at work. In this post I will write about the study group, moderating our writing samples and the training Danni and I ran at work. I will post about our latest mini lessons in the coming days.

I really enjoy being part of Lisa Burman’s Writing in the Early Years study group. It confirms for me, that Danni, Marcia and I doing a great job. It makes us feel valued and we love sharing our ideas and hearing what is happening in other classes across Adelaide. It is also a fabulous way of connecting with like minded passionate teachers and broadening our professional network.  We always leave these sessions on such a high and look forward to getting back into the classroom and trying new things. After the last session, Katie our fabulous facilitator shared with us a youtube video of Matt Glover conferencing with a child called Isabella. I loved the way Matt Glover listened to Isabella and then reread the book back to her. We then watched Isabella part two and I really loved the way Matt Glover then demonstrated to Isabella how she could read her book with more information adding more detail. This video immediately made me think of a few students in my class who I could be doing this with to extend their oral vocabulary and their story telling skills. We are off to see Matt Glover in a masterclass on Thursday and can’t wait!

It’s that time of year again, report writing time! Marcia, Danni, Bethany and I spent a day last fortnight moderating work samples ready to write reports and allocate grades. A couple of years ago Marcia and I created a spreadsheet that broke down the achievement outcomes of the Australian Curriculum for both Maths and English in year one. We use this on a regular basis to map our kids achievements in each of these areas and as we finish units of learning. Last year, we looked more closely at the English curriculum and mapped out where exactly writer’s workshop fits in. We were initially amazed at how much of the Australian Curriculum we cover by implementing writer’s workshop in our classes and wondered how we were actually covering it all when we were weren’t bookmaking!

At the beginning of the year we kept each of our student’s first books for the year which we put in their profile books. It was timely to pull those out and see the amazing growth when comparing to their current writing.

A couple of weeks ago we had a student free day at school and Danni and I were asked whether we would be keen on sharing our knowledge about writer’s workshop with some of the school’s ancillary staff. We agreed and created a presentation for staff focussing specifically on what writer’s workshop is and what in particular they can do to help us  and our students during these lessons. We talked around the purpose of writer’s workshop and the three components lessons are made up of  – explicit mini-lessons, writing/ bookmaking time and refection time. We were clear about there being common agreed rules during our bookmaking including students having the right to choose what they write about, adults not being permitted to write in student’s books and students are not allowed to use erasers. We discussed the best way to record conversations or teaching points that ancillary staff may encounter when they are working with students and we also talked about how our student’s strategy cards can be used to help support them in their writing.

I’ve still got lots to share about our latest mini lessons. So will post again soon.

Happy Writing!




April 26

Finishing Term 1

Last time I logged into my blog I had so much to share that I needed to share in two parts. I shared part one and had good intentions of blogging more in the following days… Needless to say the busy-ness of finishing term 1 took over so here we are almost at the end of the holidays writing the next part of our journey.

After introducing our Author of the Month for March – Lynley Dodd, it was natural to talk to the students about her Hairy Maclary books being part of a series. We also took this opportunity to share that a student in Marcia’s class had also begun writing their own series of books using the same characters and these were available to read in Marcia’s room.

One of our students had a Hairy Maclary book of his own at home with a collection of stories that he kindly brought into school to share with our class. We noticed in his “Hairy Maclary Treasury” book there was a contents page. Together we discovered this listed all the stories in the book and what page we needed to turn to, to find them.

As Lynley Dodd uses ellipsis in some of her stories, our next mini lesson talked about ellipsis being 3 dots in a row to show that a sentence is not finished. We discovered that the page needs to be turned to find out what happens next in the story. We have noticed since talking about ellipsis the students are noticing them more in published texts and they are making good attempts at adding them into their own writing.

Our next mini lesson focused on writing goals and strategy cards. The fabulous Danni made these amazing strategy cards (that you can purchase on TeachersPayTeachers here… ) that we were giving out as we were conferencing with students. We wanted to make sure we all had the same understanding around them hence the mini lesson. Danni explained during her mini lesson that goals are the things we want to get better at and we set writing goals to help us get better at writing. Danni showed the students Tri’s writing goals and explained that they will all have writing goals strategy cards to help remind them what they need to continue to work on. Danni showed the students that these would be kept on a small ring and more strategy cards would be added as the students needed them.  She told the students that these will kept along with their current bookmaking and alphabet sound chart in their writer’s workshop plastic pocket.

The power of three was our next mini lesson. I am slowly continuing to write my book – “The Walking Hotdog” and I completed another couple of pages in this book to show this text feature. I have found the students really love it when you show them that you are a writer too and were excited when I brought my book out. I explained to the students that the power of three is when a word or an image is repeated three times to help emphasise the word. I asked the students to tap their nose when they noticed this in my book. I then read the students the pages in my book I had already completed before the lesson and the students tapped their noses when I got to that part. The next day to recap, Marcia read the book “Banjo and Ruby Red” by Libby Gleeson to further reinforce that the power of three can be shown through both words and pictures.

Our last formal mini lesson for the term was around BIG and BOLD. This was a term we had been using throughout the term anyway but had yet to do a formal lesson around it. We used Aaron Blabey’s “Pig the Pug” as our shared text for this concept and the students were able to explain that authors use big and bold when they want something to stand out or when the character is shouting as Pig does throughout the story.

Throughout the term in between our formal mini lessons we shared stories and recapped on the main points of our mini lessons. We also reread our class journal. This has become the record of our learning and the working document of all of our mini lessons. Some days we would randomly flip it open and ask the students if they could show us the skill that was on that particular page in their own bookmaking. Other days we would go back and read the whole journal. Our class journal is always on display in our classroom and the students are able to access it if they feel the need.

Until next time.



March 22

I have lots to tell you!

I always knew when I started writing this blog that time would be the biggest obstacle in sharing my practice.  So it is really no surprise here I am, almost a month since my last post with lots to share. There will be too much to share in this one post so I will post today and try and post again in the coming days with the rest.

Adding Detail to Pictures

The mini lesson that followed the colouring in mini lesson was about adding detail to pictures. Danni taught this lesson to the students and began by showing the students a lone dog on a page. She then drew the same dog adding more detail to the expression on his face and to the background. The students could see that be adding more detail to our pictures we can see what is happening without even reading the words.


Conferencing was our next mini lesson. We were finding conferencing difficult with the constant interruptions from our students. We thought it was timely that we explicitly discussed what the students thought should and shouldn’t happen during conferencing time. We also brainstormed things the students could do if they finish their book but the teacher is busy conferencing. The students have responded quite well to this mini lesson and we are being interrupted less and less.


Maintaining Consistent Characters

Maintaining consistent characters throughout our bookmaking was proving difficult for some of our students. With some students making books that are hugely disconnected and chop and change from one story to another. We read the students Eric Carle’s “The Very Busy Spider” and discussed as we read how the spider was the main character in the story and even though she changed position or she may of looked a little different from page to page, she was still the same character. We pointed out how some characters in the story only appeared for a short amount of time and that was ok but there always needed to be at least one consistent character.

Author of the Month for March ~ Lynley Dodd

Marcia and I introduced our new author of the month for March by showing the students a picture of the front cover of Hairy Maclary on the whiteboard. Some of the students were excited as they were familiar with this book and some of the students were able to read the author’s name. We explained to the students that like Eric Carle, Lynley Dodd was an author and an illustrator. We asked the students what they noticed about Lynley Dodd herself and then handed out copies of Lynley Dodd’s books to pairs of students to carefully look at. After students had looked at their first book they swapped with another pair. This continued for about 10 minutes before we drew the students back in and brainstormed what the students noticed about Lynley Dodd’s books and her craft of writing. It was exciting to see the students drawing on and using the technical language we have been using in our writer’s workshop lessons, with students noticing Lynley Dodd’s books have blurbs, she uses detail in her pictures and some of the books had the same characters.

That’s all I have for tonight. There is lots more to come in the coming days. Thanks for continuing to check in and read our journey. I hope it is helping and inspiring some of you.






February 22

Colouring in

On Monday, Danni and Marcia looked at colouring in with the students. We had been noticing some students were rushing their illustrations and colouring over them with one colour rather than colouring them in with many. Danni demonstrated what good colouring looked like and didn’t look like. She then got the students to brainstorm what they notice about good colouring in.

All the students then practiced colouring in their own picture of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to show how well they could actually colour illustrations. When the students were finished, we shrunk their pictures down on the photocopier and displayed them in our journal.

February 15

Introducing our sound card

We began today’s lesson by asking the students what things they have learnt during our writer’s workshop mini lessons this term. As we did this we flipped back through our class journal and found the things they were remembering. We then introduced the sound card we had created. This was created by inserting all of the students pictures from the alphabet freeze we made into a word document. I also added in the first 50 Oxford sight words to try to help and encourage students to spell these familiar words correctly.   Marcia began by explaining to the students that we wanted them to have a go by writing the sounds they could hear in a word. For example if you wanted to write the word “volcano” we want you to say the word and write the first sound you can hear… Eg.. “V” then any other sounds you can hear… “vcano”… We then we’re very clear that we didn’t mind if they made mistakes or of things were not spelt correctly, we just wanted them to have a go.

We sent all the students off for 10 minutes of solid writing and we were so excited to see the kids using the charts and sounding and stretching out words to themselves.