Our Top 3 Tips for Using Your Summer to Plan Next Year’s Writing Workshop

My summer to-do list is LONG. In addition to around-the-house projects that only get done during the summer, trips to take, friends to see, and books to read, I have planning to do for the upcoming school year. I bet you do, too.

A lot of writing workshop can’t be planned for — we have to meet our students, get  a sense of their needs, find the engaging mentor texts that have just been published this week. But we can accomplish some of the big picture planning — the kind that creates the shape of your year-to come — in advance.

Here are some tips for you as you enter your summer:

Sketch out the writing studies you are hoping to teach Genres

In general terms, I know which writing studies I absolutely want to return to next year, which I want to ditch, new studies I’d like to try.  I also know that I will need to hold fast to the requirements of my curriculum, incorporating narrative, expository, analytical, and digital writing.

In no particular order, I start jotting these down (I do it in my notebook where I keep all of my thinking.)

These might change. I might run out of time. Or my new students might move more quickly than this year’s bunch, so I will need to add a genre or technique study.  But now I have a place to begin my thinking.

As you move throughout your summer vacation, jot down ideas as soon as they hit you. This preliminary list will give you a framework.

Sketch out a calendar of the year

As I think ahead, even though I know things will shift and change, it helps me to begin Yearcalendarthinking about my total amount of teaching time and where studies might fall on a calendar. I begin with a very general sketch of a calendar and start laying my studies against it.

This starting point gives me a visual guide for my thinking as I consider what I’ll be able to squeeze in, what might have to go, and how I can make the very most efficient use of my time.

Start collecting mentor texts

We favor mentor texts that are just-published. They engage our students and connect them to the real world of writing right now. Still, as you are reading this summer (particularly in genres like poetry or narrative that aren’t as immediate as journalism), you can start to file away some mentor texts — whole or mini or even just mentor sentences — for the fall.

Develop a storage system. We like our Google Drive-based Mentor Text Dropbox (which you can always use and contribute to!) But Evernote or Pinterest or Learnist or Diigo also have a lot of potential for helping you stay organized!

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 10.47.01 AMAs soon as you read something that might prove useful in the coming school year, file it away. Make a copy. Take a picture. SAVE IT. This will not only save you time down the road, but it will also help shape your preliminary planning of your individual writing studies.

As I’m reading online and at the pool and on vacation, I will be reading for pleasure but with an eye for what can help my students take their writing to new heights, too.

What are your top 3 tips for summer planning? What would you add to our list? Comment below or find us on Twitter @rebekahodell1 and @allisonmarchett. 

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One thought on “Our Top 3 Tips for Using Your Summer to Plan Next Year’s Writing Workshop

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful and instructive post–it’s one of the most practical and thoughtful pieces I’ve read on the nuts and bolts of the planning process for writer’s workshop! Best, Buffy

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