PUSD Writing Project - Volume 1 Issue 6 - September 21, 2015

Writing Workshop September Goals

  • To launch your narrative unit of study.
  • To plan and implement 10-15 minute minilessons that include these 5 components: Connection, Teaching Point, Teach, Active Engagement, Link
  • To establish clear Writing Workshop rules and expectations during the minilesson, independent writing, and sharing to ensure all of your students are actively engaged.
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Shout Outs

Check out what's happening in our PUSD Trailblazer writing workshops. Send us photos from your workshops to share!

Online Food for Thought

Writing Minilesson Tips

Minilesson: (7-12 minutes)

  • Whole-class instruction: 80% will be right at their level; 20% high/low, will need differentiation later

  • Make sure it stays short, otherwise students lose their necessary writing time

  • Includes active engagement BEFORE sending kids off to write

Inside the MINILESSON:


  • Engage the students - funny stories OR simply, “We’ve been working on…. Today I’m going to teach you….”
  • Name the teaching point

TEACH: Modes of Instruction

  • Demonstration: Writing in “real time” as you think aloud about your process as a writer

  • Explain an Example: Put up a piece of mentor text, study together, create vision

  • Inquiry: Very powerful method, not used for everything (Ex. “What is a good way for an author to introduce stories?”)

  • Guided Practice/Coaching: Teacher does, student does; teacher/student together, then student does, teacher watches

  • If kids don’t get it, ask yourself, “Have I demonstrated this?”


  • Important for students to try out the skill before they get off the rug - helps you plan for who might need additional support during work time

  • 100% of kids are involved

  • Ways to Do It: turn/talk, jot/write, think, role play, gesture, read, highlight

  • Model hard things, practice easier things - Have them continue what you’ve started or start a part of their own writing


  • Reiterate the teaching point, remind them of the strategies they could use, revisit/review anchor chart, and “Off you go!”

Work Time: (30 minutes)

  • Students can have writing spots around the room or work at desks - what’s important is LOTS of writing time

  • Conferring 1:1 teaching (5-7 minutes each)

  • Small-group instruction: Compliments, get kids started, teach common skill/strategy that is needed

Mid-Workshop Teaching Points

  • More frequent in beginning of year

  • Lots of building stamina

  • Reinforce good behaviors and give students more strategies to keep them going

  • As stamina builds they can occur less frequently

  • Can also be a continuation of the minilesson (another teaching point)

SHARE (5 minutes)

  • Use time to spotlight the good work students did during writing time

  • Another opportunity to teach - NOTICE and NAME the work kids are doing with the ultimate goal that students will be able to articulate what they are doing as writers (metacognition)

Websites & Blogs Worth Following

Columbia University's Teachers College Reading & Writing Project has a collection of classroom videos on Vimeo that take you inside reading and writing workshops at various grade levels. Check them out here:

Books You Won't Want to Miss

Mark Your Calendars!

Join us for our 2015-2016 Trailblazer Writing Labs! You won't want to miss these ongoing opportunities to come together as a community of writers and teachers of writing to dive deeper into various aspects of writing instruction.

These labs will be held on the B Mondays listed below from 2:00 to 3:30 P.M. at McKInley TK-8 School of the Arts. Attendance is voluntary. Goodies will be given away at each lab to those who participate. Let's keep the energy alive!

#1 September 21, 2015 ~ Architecture of a Minilesson / Immersion

#2 October 19, 2015 ~ Writing Conferences

#3 November 16, 2015 ~ Student Work & Resource Share

#4 January 25, 2016 ~ Qualities of Writing/Mentor Texts

#5 February 29, 2016 ~ TBD

#6 April 18, 2016 ~ Student Work & Resource Share

Writing Lab #1 Round Up

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it to our first ever Pasadena Writing Lab!

Twenty Trailblazers total came together this afternoon during their own B Monday planning time to be part of our continued professional learning community. Wow!

Please share out your learning today with the other Trailblazers who weren't able to make it. We also placed the PD and resources in a new folder titled "Writing Labs" in our shared Google Drive.

Check out the photos below from today's Writing Lab as well as the video we studied. We look forward to seeing you at our next Writing Lab on October 19!

Second Grade Information Writing (Forces and Motion)

Trailblazer Writing Lab #2

Monday, Oct. 19th, 2-3:30pm

325 South Oak Knoll Avenue

Pasadena, CA

  • We will meet in Room 109 - enter through the main school entrance on Oak Knoll, turn left on the main hall, room 109 is the first room on your right
  • We will have yummy treats AND give away BOOKS!!!

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Apply for a PEF Grant

Applications due by 5 p.m., Wednesday, October 1, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Night at Vroman's Bookstore

Thursday, Oct. 8th, 5:30pm

695 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91101

Please join the annual Teacher Appreciation Night at Vroman's Bookstore!

  • A special performance by children’s singer/songwriter and teaching artist Emily Arrow will kick off the night, followed by her tips for how to bring music and songwriting into your classroom.
  • Then, their knowledgeable staff will recommend great new books for your classroom discussions and libraries and share some services they offer to teachers, as well as information on this year’s Young Readers League.
  • They’ll have snacks and beverages, plus a bunch of goodies (including books!) to give away.
  • You’ll also receive a 20% off coupon to use for any personal shopping that night.