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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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.



February 13

Beginning our class journal

As we expected some (but not all) students have sped through their first book and are on their second and third books. We didn’t really want to give the students too much information surrounding writing, the craft of writing and what authors do until the students were finished or almost finished their first books. We really want their first books to be raw data samples of what they already know.

We decided we would organise our books in the same way our readers are in our school; by colour. We did this last year and it was quite successful. We gave everyone a pink book first. The students will then move on to red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, grey (silver) and gold. For those students who make it all the way through they will just start again at pink. We thought by organising the books this way it gives us a good idea at a quick glance of where the students are up to.

The first mini lesson we taught last week was surrounding front covers and the things that front covers need. We explored different front covers of books and brainstormed what we noticed. This brainstorm then formed the first entry in our class journal.

The other glaringly obvious teaching point for our mini lessons last week was book orientation. We noticed many of our students are writing and illustrating in their books from back to front and many are writing in their books upside down. During this mini lesson I asked the students to show me which way my book should open. (I had my own pink book that someone put around the right way for me.)  I then asked the students to remind me what should go on the front cover of my book. They said all the obvious, title, picture, author and illustrator’s name, library letter and publisher’s sticker/ emblem. As the kids were calling out the different features I was quickly adding them on to my pink book. This book was then glued into our class journal for us to refer back to.


I am hoping we will use this class journal to refer back to each mini lesson to help reinforce these messages and add new ideas and learnings surrounding the work of authors and the needs of our students as writers. I will also continue to create this pink book to help with my mini lessons in the coming weeks.

February 5

Introducing our author of the month

On Thursday we introduced our author of the month for February. We began by showing the students the front covers of a number of Eric Carle’s books and got them to read the titles with us if they could. We had looked at about four or five of them before one of the students noticed that they all had a C on the top right hand corner. Then another student noticed they were all written by Eric Carle. We explained that’s why there was a C on the covers of the books and if they were someone else’s books they would have a different letter at the top corner.  For example, I would have a R for Roether and Marcia would have a F for Fraser.

Marcia then pulled up a photo on the interactive whiteboard of Eric Carle and we asked the students what they noticed. This lead to a lot of discussion and questions such as, Where was he born? Where does he live? How old is he? How old was he when he wrote his first book? How old was he when he wrote his last book? We answered some of these questions there and then with the students. We then moved on to reading his book ” ‘Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,’ said the Sloth “.

After that, the students spent a short amount of time working on their own books before having to pack up for P.E.

Later that afternoon, I put an author of the month display up with some of the questions asked. We will add to this as needed.

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February 1

Our first lesson

Today Marcia and I introduced Writer’s Workshop to our students. We began by asking them the following questions.


What is an author?/ What do authors do?

After a lot of discussion we clarified with the students that authors are the writers of books. We introduced the word illustrator also at this stage and asked what this person does. We also made sure we pointed out that some authors are also illustrators.


Do you know any authors?

Our students didn’t have a lot of prior knowledge around the names of authors with only one author mentioned at this point. (Nick Bland) We are hoping to build on their little knowledge by having an author of the month. This month’s author will be Eric Carle and we will begin to unpack his craft of writing tomorrow.


We then posed the question…


What can authors write about?

This created a lot of discussion. We brainstormed first knee to knee with a partner and then as a whole group before splitting into groups of three to brainstorm on large paper all the things authors can write about.

We then regrouped together on the carpet and announced that this year in our classes we will be authors and we will start today. The students were able to select a pink ready made book (small, medium or large) and begin writing or illustrating. We said to the students that today they could write about what ever they wanted. Before they started we then pointed out though that authors are not allowed to copy books that have already been made. For example, you can’t write a story exactly the same about “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” because that’s Eric Carle’s story. We explained that you can borrow ideas from authors through and if they really liked that idea they could write a story about “The Very Hungry… something else.

The student’s were then able to go off and write and draw for 15 minutes.

After this time we regrouped on the carpet and two students were selected to share what they had done during Writer’s Workshop today. After share time we asked the students to file their work in progress books into their Writer’s Workshop pockets in their drawers ready to work on tomorrow.






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