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Do I teach Launching the Writer’s Workshop lessons from start to finish, page by page?

december 15, 2020

When it comes to planning and executing an effective writer’s workshop, it’s helpful to have a playbook that offers yearlong guidance. That’s why so many intermediate and secondary ELA teachers rely on Launching the Writer’s Workshop: Grades 3-12 by Kristina Smekens and Dr. Maureen Scane.

With thousands of teachers using the third edition of the Launch book, it’s not uncommon for teachers to ask, “Am I supposed to do all of these lessons in order?”

This is a terrific question, and the answer is . . . no.

Launching the Writer's Workshop

Part 1

The Launch book for grades 3-12 is broken into two parts. The first part focuses on the beginning weeks of school; it is all about setting up the writer’s workshop. This part includes strategies for classroom management, building stamina, and establishing routines.

No teacher would do all of the lessons from Part 1 because the content suggests procedures that might be needed in elementary versus middle school versus high school. Management lessons a third grade teacher selects from Part 1 of the book will likely be very different from what a high school teacher selects from this section.

After a 3-4 week start-up, the second part of the book provides possible writing lessons to teach throughout the rest of the year.

Part 2

While Part 2 organizes lessons according to the Six Traits of Writing, these lessons are NOT to be taught “trait by trait.” Instead, teachers should organize their writing instruction into persuasive/argumentative, informative, and narrative units. Like in Part 1, this portion of the book offers the full gamut of lessons for grades 3-12. Teachers have the liberty to pick and choose the lessons that are most appropriate for the skills their grade level requires.

On pages 5-7, a specific sequence of units and lessons is suggested for grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 respectively. These are among the most valuable pages in the book because they provide a suggested yearlong road map for teaching writing in each grade band.

To order your own copy of Launching the Writer’s Workshop for grades 3-12, visit Amazon or The Literacy Store.

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