Discipline: Professional Resources

Copyright: 2013

Grade(s): K - 5

Delivery Method: Print

Imprint: Heinemann

Author(s): Leah Mermelstein

Self-Directed Writers: The Third Essential Element in the Writing Workshop

"It’s not surprising that schools have the power to either help or hinder students in becoming more self-directed. This book will show you how to teach, plan, and speak in ways that nurture kids to become even more self-directed during writing workshop, as well as pave the way for them to become self-directed adults."

—Leah Mermelstein

"I’m done. What should I do now?"

If you hear this question all too often during the independent work portion of writing workshop, Leah Mermelstein has a solution for making this time more productive for both students and teachers. Along with making time for writing workshop every day, and planning long-term for it, Leah argues that the “third essential element,” creating self-directed writers, is key to the success of writing workshops.

Using a wealth of classroom anecdotes, student samples and specific teaching language, Leah illustrates how even the youngest students can become self-directed learners. Her explicit strategies include:

  • creating an appropriate physical environment along with daily rituals and routines
  • scaffolding instruction with Write Alouds and Interactive Writing
  • planning units, focus lessons, conferences, and shares that are aimed at helping kids become self-directed.

Leah makes clear the many benefits of creating classrooms filled with self-directed learners: students have more time to practice, they’re able to make decisions and solve problems on their own, and you’re freed up to confer with students while everyone else stays on task. Give Leah’s practical strategies and tips a try, and transform your writing workshop from a chorus of “what next?” to the quiet hum of deeply engaged kids.