Friday, July 24, 2015

Writer's Toolkits

I must admit I used to not like teaching writing.  *gasp* I did it and I did it the best I could, but I knew there was always a better way.  After several years I realized it wasn't my lessons that were causing the issue, it was the way I organized my writer's workshop supplies.  I was fortunate enough to work with one of the most sweetest people on the planet my first couple of years, who also so happened to be a phenomenal writing teacher.  Lucky me!! I remember always wanting to watch her teach writing and I was always picking her brain for her writing ideas.  From her came my "writer's toolkits"

Writing toolkits are just a way I organize my students writer's workshop supplies. 

My toolkits are simply magazine holders from IKEA (5 for $2).  All of my students are assigned a number at the beginning of the year.  I label things in my classroom with that number for a couple of reasons... 1.  I can reuse them year after year. 2. If someone moves and I get a new student I don't have to change pictures or names, I just slide them in to that spot.  Makes my life way easier during the year. 

I have my students keep their toolkits on a shelf, that way they are easily accessible.  They can go grab them after my mini-lesson during writing or they may use these during Work on Writing during Daily 5.  Also like that my students can take their toolkit and write anywhere in the room and they will have everything they need with them. 

Inside my toolkits--- I keep a folder (which they keep the piece they are publishing in there along with writing paper), their composition book (which is used for pre-writing and drafting).  A spell check page which came from a spelling resource a couple years back and then a phonics dictionary resource that came with our phonics program and a nice sharpened pencil (so they are ready to write).   Through out the year they add things to their toolkits, i.e. mini anchor charts from mini-lesson, thematic vocabulary words, etc. 

I like that everything is together and organized, but not shoved in their desk. 

My writing bulletin board:  I use this as a way of keeping track of where my students are in the writing process.  Now, the process doesn't necessarily go in this order every time and many of my students bounce back and fourth from one stage to the other.  

I take and print all of my students pictures and glue them on jumbo popsicle sticks.  It takes several weeks, months to teach the entire process, but I like for my students to "publish" a story at least once a 6 weeks.  

They simple place their picture in the pocket of the stage they are at.  Either pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing or publishing.  So as I am conferencing with students during writer's workshop I can easily look up at the bulletin board and know where each of my students are in regards to their writing piece.  For example, if Johnny's picture is at pre-wrting I know he is drawing or making a bubble map, etc, and if Sally's picture is at editing I know I want to conference with her before Johnny because that is a more difficult task for them and I will need to get her started.  Hope that makes sense.  


(The pieces around my pockets are from HERE)

Does this take a lot of modeling and practice?!? YES!!! But after they get the hang of it, it's good as gold.  
Writing went from being my most dreaded time of the day to my favorite!


  1. Hi Jaymee! I love your classroom's bright colors! I was going to use my IKEA magazine boxes for books, but I might use them for writing because of your blog post! I might have them put their spelling dictionary in there, too. Thanks for the ideas!!