3 Components of Writer’s Workshop: A Great Overview

By implementing the three key components of writer’s workshop, you can launch with success.

What is Writer’s Workshop?

Writer’s Workshop is a framework for teaching writing. It consists of three main components: mini-lesson, independent writing, and sharing.

This structure ensures that all learners receive quality writing instruction that is focused on specific learning activities.

Components of Writer’s Workshop

This post outlines the three components of writer’s workshop.

components of writer's workshop
components of writer’s workshop

1. Do a Mini-Lesson.

The components of writer’s workshop begins with the mini-lesson.

A mini-lesson is a short introductory lesson – usually no more than 15 minutes- that introduces the skill or strategy that you want students to apply during independent writing.

Lesson objectives are chosen based on a combination of the needs of the class taken from teacher observations, state curriculum requirements, and formal/informal assessments.

During the mini-lesson, teachers model the writing skill or strategy via “think alouds”, showing examples and explaining how it makes better writers.

Mentor texts for writing are great to use during mini-lessons.

Students have an opportunity to practice the skill during this time.

It’s a whole group activity, so all students gather on the carpet. Having students remain at their desks is perfectly fine, too.

A short list of possible writing mini-lessons…

  • Procedures for writer’s workshop (taught at the beginning of the school year and as needed)
  • The elements of (insert any writing genre)
  • Read aloud book with examples that show targeted writing skill
  • Brainstorming using writing graphic organizers
  • How to use an editing checklist
  • Effectively using a revising checklist
  • Strong verbs
  • Transitions
  • Adding vivid details that “show and not tell”
  • Organizing a writing piece with a beginning, middle, and end
  • Grammar skills (e.g. semicolons, dashes, etc.)
  • Writing an effective lead
  • Writing a good conclusion
  • Generating ideas

2. Write Independently.

The second element in the components of writer’s workshop is independent writing.

This component represents the largest block of time in writer’s workshop.

After the mini-lesson, students go to their table groups or individual writing spaces and begin writing independently or in pairs.

It’s time to put those skills and strategies taught in current plus previous mini-lessons into practice.

They continue drafting a previously-started piece or begin a new one.

Within independent writing, students follow the writing process:

  • brainstorming
  • drafting
  • revising
  • editing
  • publishing

Writer’s workshop is an ongoing, differentiated writing process, so each student will be at a different stage.

As they publish one piece, they start another.

Some may abandon a piece of writing before publishing, and that’s okay if the writing is not a required piece that will be formally assessed.

What is the teacher doing while students write independently?

Teachers conference with students either one-on-one or in small groups. This is a great time to differentiate instruction.

During conferencing, teachers target the specific writing needs of each student, targeting specific elements, skills, or strategies that present a weakness for that particular student.

This is the time to praise application of skills, observe signs of understanding, offer feedback, and write anecdotal notes about what is observed.

Devote about 5-8 minutes of conference time to each student. Try to conference with everyone at least once during the week.

Small group conferences are strategically organized based on all the students in the group sharing a similar writing need.

Determine these groups beforehand when lesson planning for the week. 

See tips for managing writer’s workshop conferences.

Quick Tip: At the end of the week, while reviewing your anecdotal notes, if you notice a recurring skill or strategy that a significant number of students are struggling with, make it a mini-lesson topic.

3. Share.

Once independent writing and conferences are complete for the day, everyone meets on the carpet for author’s chair.

This component of writer’s workshop is a time for students to share their writing and receive constructive feedback from peers.

This is the time for them to showcase how well they’ve been applying all the skills and strategies from the mini-lessons.

Student volunteers share, or teachers use a sharing schedule where each writer shares at least once before there’s a repeat.

While students share, teachers take anecdotal notes, focusing on targeted writing objectives.

After a student shares, consider using the TAG method.

Three separate classmates offer the following…

T= Tell one thing you liked about the writing.

A= Ask one relevant, thoughtful question about the piece.

G= Give a suggestion that will help to improve the writing (or give a compliment).

After T.A.G, one or two more students share if time permits.

components of writer's workshop
components of writer’s workshop

Final Thoughts: Components of Writer’s Workshop

Now you have a better understanding of the components of writer’s workshop.

By implementing these three key components of writer’s workshop, you’ll be all set to guide students in becoming blossoming writers.