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Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide from the Authors of Craft Lessons

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  692 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Is the writing workshop the only way to teach writing? No. There are a variety of approaches or programs, but none of them matches the writing workshop when it comes to growing strong writers. That's why, despite the pressures of testing, the writing workshop has endured and even flourished in thousands of schools across the country. Today we face a time when as many as te ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 14th 2001 by Heinemann Educational Books
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Yvonne Mortello We are using the TC - Units Of Study to complete our lesson plans. However, we are working as grade level teams and jigsawing the planning and placing…moreWe are using the TC - Units Of Study to complete our lesson plans. However, we are working as grade level teams and jigsawing the planning and placing all the plans on a Google doc to share.
Tip : If WW is new to your teachers, then just concern yourselves with the mini lesson portion of the manual. Read the introduction to each session and then just the 4 parts for the mini lesson. That will be enough to get you going until you feel comfortable taking on more.
TC's UOS is filled with PD throughout each session, however, sometimes it can be too much if you are just starting out.

Also, I belong to the Facebook group called Units of Study by Heinemann and it is excellent for asking and answering questions along the way.

There are also so many on-line resources available through Heinemann - there is a video that goes along with each UOS that you can watch on your own to prepare for each unit.
On-line Resources for Writing Workshop

Go to:

You will need to create a username and password - many great resources besides the video intros to each unit of study.(less)

Community Reviews

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Marsha Randall
Aug 05, 2016 Marsha Randall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
Despite the fact it's not necessarily a current publication, it had some amazingly helpful tips for starting a writer's workshop!
Jul 27, 2013 Tracy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Teachers unfamiliar w workshop
Recommended to Tracy by: Oregon Writing Project course
Shelves: teaching-writing

This practical, easily readable resource is the perfect tool for teachers who have never been privileged to witness or experience the writing workshop in the classroom. As a high school English teacher, I found that a few of the recommendations would not apply since it is written with K-8 in mind, but mostly I felt that I gained a clear picture of how a workshop could look and function. Fletcher and Portalupi use a straightforward, simple voice to communicate workshop details about the environm
Jan 12, 2017 Angela rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful resource for teachers looking to try writers workshop in their classrooms. There were numerous ideas that could be extended to any grade level.
Dec 26, 2016 Trina rated it it was amazing
I just reread this book and was reminded of so many great things about teaching young writers. It is an especially great book for teachers who are just starting workshop.
Jul 15, 2009 Tara rated it it was amazing
As the newest teacher within a school district that expects workshop style teaching, I need to get through as many texts like this one as I can.

This was a valuable resource to any new teacher. It does in small parts focus on elementary scenarios, but as an 8th grade English teacher, I found the bulk of the information to be relevant to my grade level, and short parts specifically geared for younger grades can be skipped over.

One thing that freaked me out a little bit was that there is no mention
Jun 16, 2016 Joy rated it really liked it
Writing Workshop was first introduced to me when I was an undergrad. My college stressed subject integration as much as possible and options for when there were multiple grades in the same classroom with one teacher.

This book is a little more free with writing workshop then what I was originally taught. The authors stress student choice and letting the students write what they want. The basics of WW are there: a mini lesson, time to write and then sharing time. Students have folders they use fo
Michael Brockley
Aug 25, 2013 Michael Brockley rated it it was amazing
At 162 pages, Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide is an introduction in the facilitation of writing. The authors encourage teachers of writing to create an environment in which writing is welcomed. The focus shifts from red marks and curriculum-driven expectations to meaningful daily writing as determined by students. In short chapters, Fletcher and Portalupi guide the prospective writing teacher through the process of establishing a writing workshop in a classroom. The authors stress througho ...more
Shannon Clark
Jun 08, 2013 Shannon Clark rated it it was amazing
This book is just what I needed since I'm wanting to desperately improve my teaching of writing with my 6th graders. Although I might not implement a TRUE writer's workshop there are several things from this book that I have taken to heart and will try:

1.Mini-lessons based on what the students need-whole class, small group, individual
2.Small group and individual conferences-I might swap back and forth on these each week because of time
3. Lots of mentor texts!!!
4. I also want to put the kids in
Oct 06, 2009 Nordy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: k-6 teachers
I liked Ralph Fletcher's What a Writer Needs This book also had some great information and I'm sure that it is very affective for k-6 teachers. They are, after all, the intended audience.

But the book was not helpful for me at all. I am trying to figure out how to adapt this reading/writing workshop approach to a Sophomore and Senior English class, because our district is implimenting this 6-12. As our high school's demonstration classroom teacher, I need to apply it to my courses and then have
Jul 03, 2013 Pam rated it really liked it
This book has lots of practical advise on how to start and use a Writer’s Workshop in your classroom. It gives you basic formats and at the end of each chapter there are points for using the workshop in the classroom. It is an easy read and provides teachers with the basics. The book is a great starting point if you are beginning your writer’s workshop.
The book also provides a lesson for the first few days, a lesson for the first week, scope and sequence, conferencing tips, and assessments.
Jul 17, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
I'm participating in the National Writing Project for my district. We were given this book as a guidebook during the workshop.

I think there some good ideas here but I teach middle school. The intended audience, I believe, is elementary. While the book refers to modifications which could be made for 6th-8th grades, student data comes from 5th graders at the most.

If I feel that I'm not the intended audience, I wonder how the high school teachers in our workshop feel about the book.
Mar 01, 2013 Paul rated it liked it
This book is geared more toward young writers (K through 8), but I still found four concrete ideas to incorporate into my college Creative Writing course with my students.

I was able to flip through the entire book in under an hour. If you are a teacher who is especially knowledgable of the writing process, you can skip much of it. But the "Making it Work in the Classroom" ideas at the end of each chapter are the "take aways" that I found helpful.
The Reading Countess
Mar 17, 2014 The Reading Countess rated it really liked it
Read in a PLC ELA group, Fletcher's book is reassuring in my hands. Although I adore anything Fletcher pens, I wonder why this text was selected to be read by the ELA leadership in my district. The publication date (2001) makes me wonder about the choice.

Fletcher never disappoints, though, no matter the date of publication.
Aug 14, 2016 Sukhi rated it it was amazing
Excellent book that introduces, reviews, and presents information on Writing Workshop. I'm planning on rereading this book to help develop my teaching of writing. Fletcher's writing is clear, concise, and simple. It gets to the point of what workshops are meant to be, how they function, how they can be managed, and what teachers should do during them. Perfect for beginners, and refreshers!
Sep 24, 2015 Emyrose8 rated it really liked it
4.5- Definitely a useful resource. Gives instructions on how to launch a writing workshop in the classroom, tips for conferencing with students, troubleshooting solutions, and an appendix of forms to use. This type of program goes hand in hand with Daily 5!
Jun 20, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
A great resource whether you are just launching writing workshop or trying to fine tune what you already have in place. Covers everything from use of time and space to conferring with writers to assessment and evaluation. A very useful reference book for anyone who teaches writing.
Christine Theberge Rafal
Apr 15, 2010 Christine Theberge Rafal rated it really liked it
This book is short and simple, and very practical. It helps teachers begin using the writing workshop method from step one, from setting up your schedule and space to troubleshooting after you've tried it for a while.
Feb 24, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
Book #12 read in 2007

I bought and read this book as research for teaching. I want to add Writing Workshop to my class. This book was easy to read and understand. I learned a lot and can easily see how I can use and apply what I read to my classroom.

Borrowed by a friend (Sherri)
Annette Steele
Jul 25, 2010 Annette Steele rated it it was amazing
Bought this book LAST summer (09) and finally read it this spring. Very helpful and do-able suggestions for a classroom writing workshop. Now that I will HAVE a classroom on a regular basis I plan on implementing these ideas in the fall.
Marcy Wynhoff
Sep 16, 2010 Marcy Wynhoff rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Read this for work, even though I could teach it! That being said it is a good book to bring people to the discussion of WW and a good book for those who haven't started or had it in ed school!!
Oh dear..what's happening with masters in Ed programs...
May 29, 2012 Paige rated it really liked it
Shelves: educational
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. There are great examples and the language is very understandable and entertaining. The authors made this somewhat daunting thought of writers workshop seem less complicated. :)
Aug 06, 2007 Karen rated it really liked it
This is a great book for someone who is new to writing workshop. I think this will be a great staff development book for my school this year, so, as a staff, we can begin to talk about best practices as it applies to writing workshop.
Chris Young
Jun 13, 2010 Chris Young rated it liked it
This book has practical value for teachers looking to set up a writing workshop in their ELA classrooms. Sadly, this book is in need of revision as it was written prior to the high-stakes testing era.
Feb 16, 2015 Paula rated it it was amazing
Shelves: textbooks
This is a fantastic resource for teachers who want to implement a writers workshop into the classrooms. Each chapter is short and the information contained in this book will help any teacher to effectively plan and utilize the writers workshop. It's a must have for any writing teacher.
Sep 08, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing
Awesome resource for both rookie and veteran teachers. The authors give tangible practices that you can apply right away to your writing workshop! Easy to read and gives the reader confidence to put the learning into practice!
Joe Wood
Dec 20, 2010 Joe Wood rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-work
For anyone who is thinking about starting a Writing Workshop, Fletcher's book is an important first read. It will give you a great overview of the belief system and the procedural operation behind Writing Workshop.
Zac Sigler
Jan 06, 2015 Zac Sigler rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
A good resource for a teacher who is beginning to use writers' workshop or for one who wants to improve upon how their writers' workshop functions. I recommend reading the "Yearlong…" chapter first. That will help you get ideas as you read the rest of the book sequentially.
Sarah D'Arco
Jul 26, 2013 Sarah D'Arco rated it it was amazing
Great resource on Writing Workshop. This is a highly readable and down to earth guide describing the nuts and bolts of teaching using the Writing Workshop style. Highly recommend to teachers looking to implement workshop-style teaching!
Diana Pettis
As part of professional development with a group at school. On page 21.

Now up to page 101: Very helpful for me to see what classroom expectations are and how I can better incorporate writing into my small groups.

Liked book 8/7
May 11, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it
I read this two (or was it 3?) years ago. I'm looking at it again in preparation for the NSTWP--the ideas are still great, and I can only hope to make this work!
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  • Notebook Know-How: Strategies for the Writer's Notebook
  • Nonfiction Craft Lessons: Teaching Information Writing K-8
  • Lessons That Change Writers [with Binder]
  • The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (and They're All Hard Parts)
  • How's It Going?: A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers
  • Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop
  • Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles
  • Mosaic of Thought: Teaching Comprehension in a Reader's Workshop
  • The Art of Teaching Reading
  • Real Revision: Authors' Strategies to Share with Student Writers
  • Write Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing
  • Guiding Readers and Writers: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy
  • Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement
  • Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise Into Practice
  • Write Like This
  • Words, Words, Words: Teaching Vocabulary in Grades 4-12
Ralph Fletcher is a friend of young writers and readers as well as writing teachers. He has written or co-authored many books for writing teachers includng Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide, Teaching the Qualities of Writing, Lessons for the Writer's Notebook, Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices, and Pyrotechnics on the Page: Playful Craft That Sparks Writing. Ralph has worked with teachers a ...more
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