Question Detail

How do you begin Writer's Workshop in 2nd grade?

Dec 3, 2013 8:46pm

How do you begin Writer's workshop in 2nd grade? Are there any good mentor texts or lessons you do to help bring ideas out of your students? Writing prompts are pretty boring and limit students' creativity. I want my students to enjoy writing but I'm struggling trying to find a starting point.

  • English Language Arts
  • 2


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    • Dec 4, 2013 11:58am

      Because you have such a wide variety of skills around writing, you'll need to scaffold the process for a lot of the students. I would let the students create the prompt and use the personal narrative to start. Divide the class into three groups and give each 10 index cards. Have one group create a list of nouns; the second group create a list of verbs in the past tense, and the third group create a list of prepositional phrases. Then lead a class activity where they have some fun drawing a random card and filling in your prompt on the board : YESTERDAY, ____________(insert noun)________ ___________(insert verb)__________ ___________(insert prepositional phrase)________________. THey will be silly but you can either let them choose a prompt or narrow to 2 or 3 choices (I recommend that). It creates a lower-stakes atmosphere to start.

      Set a timer for 6 minutes and ask them to just try to write during that entire time - to just focus on the writing. As you know, some will fill a page and others will write 2 sentences. That's okay. I would write during that time too and then share my work (as the model) with the class. Depending on how much you've talked about editing/revising, I'd talk to them about that and have them read their first two sentences aloud to a partner and together try to make 2 revisions. Then the other partner reads aloud and they together revise.

      Proceed through development over the next couple of days.

      Probably the best thing I have done is using parent volunteers to come to school when first drafts are completed and work one-on-one (or one adult, two students) and simply have the students read their work aloud to the adult - the students naturally find some stumbling points and begin to revise. (No more than 4 or 5 parents at a time are needed.) The parents feel good about helping and the students have individualized attention. We used an extra classroom for the parents and sent students down as they completed their work.

      I don't know if this experience helps, but I thought I'd share!

      • Dec 10, 2013 6:57pm


        Start with text! The Common Core requires students to use text in narrative, informative, and opinion pieces, and second graders are capable of doing this while being super creative. When I work with second grade classes, I start with a close read and then ask them to respond in writing. For example, for Thanksgiving, I asked them to close read a turkey recipe and then have a writing workshop where they wrote about whether ir was hard or easy to make a turkey. They loved it because the writing provided a starting point for them to even the playing field. Then, they could add their voices when they talked about having to wash and dry the turkey, tie its legs together, etc... The responses were all so different but they were so excited to share them.

        Hope this helps,

        • Dec 22, 2013 5:48pm

          Read the book No More I'm Done by Jennifer Jacobson from Stenhouse Publishing in Portland Maine. I have many drop in visitors these days just to see what's up in writing. My writing time is not perfect but it is evolving and only getting better. Last year I had a second grade class and this year I have a 2/3 class.