How to Create a More Motivating Writers Workshop Experience

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Are your students motivated during Writers Workshop, or do they lack the drive to get started with writing?  I know that when I started teaching Writers Workshop earlier this year (following Lucy Caulkins), I very quickly learned that my children this year just were not motivated to write.  When I was thinking about ways to get them motivated, so many thoughts went through my mind – but one thing jumped out at me.  I thought that if I created a more exciting publishing party, then the kids would have something to look forward to that would celebrate their effort and accomplishments with writing.  I tried it out and shared about my first experience with a publishing party [here], and today I’d love to share about our most recent publishing party!

This go around I decided to have the students create their own personal cupcake based on a writing checklist modeled after the Lucy Caulkins narrative writing checklist.  Here’s a peek at what our checklist looked like for this publishing party.

The kiddos helped me mix all of the ingredients – they LOVE when we do a cooking activity together.  To make sure we had enough batter for all of the kids to make their cupcakes I used two boxes of cake mix.

While the kids were at recess I separated the batter out into cups and added coloring.

Since I was the only adult in the room during this activity, I had the kids share their writing with each other while I called a few kids at a time to build their cupcake.

I placed all of their writing out on the tables and had my kids go around at random and sit down and read the writing their peers wrote.  I also put out small construction paper notecards so that the kids could write a positive note for each story they read.  Let me tell you, the kids were excited about the cupcakes, but I think they were even more excited to read the positive feedback from their classmates!

I must say that this batter was GORGEOUS!  The kids were so excited to add the colors of batter for each item on the checklist that they felt they had completed.  (Tip:  To manage how much of each color batter the kids were adding we used a teaspoon and the kids were instructed to add only one scoop of each color batter).

While the cupcakes baked we continued sharing our writing with each other.

Just for you, I’ve uploaded a free version of my Publishing Pastries color code guide!  And guess what?  It’s editable!  Just click [here] or on the picture below to download your copy!

Overall it does take a fair amount of planning beforehand to pull off these publishing parties, but if your students are struggling with motivation during Writers Workshop I HIGHLY recommend figuring out what a publishing party might look like in your class and giving it a try!  If you do try it out, I would love to hear how it went!

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