Best of 2015-2016: Writing Workshop Workflow

There are a million moving pieces in a functioning writing workshop — this is part of what makes it so exciting, so dynamic. Each student is in a slightly different place in their writing, and it’s our job to try to keep it all organized so that we can best help our students. In this post, Allison shares her “writing workshop workflow” — the tracking systems that help her organize the individual writing processes of all the students in her classroom.


In the last three years I have moved from a paper system to an almost exclusively digital system in writing workshop. Finding a good rhythm in a digital environment requires just as much thought as in a paper environment. After a lot of experimentation, I think I’ve landed on a workflow that satisfies my student writers and me. This system has features that

  • allow students to receive feedback in a timely manner
  • help me keep a clear record of student submissions
  • show when I have put feedback on a student’s draft
  • give me immediate access to student writing, without having to shuffle through lots of folders and subfolders
  • put feedback on student work in the order in which it was received

Read on to find out more about this system!

The system has two main components: tracking student progress during workshop, and collecting writing for feedback.

Tracking Student Progress During Workshop

At the beginning of the year, I create a conference binder with three sections:

  1. Writing/Reading Surveys — distributed at the beginning of the year
  2. Writing Study Cover Sheets — a roster for each class, with the dates of the workshop running along the top
  3. Conference Summary for each student — a record of every conference I’ve had with each student throughout the year

Writing Study Cover Sheets

Writing Study Cover Sheet

Every class, after the mini-lesson, I do a status of the class — I call out the name of each student and ask them to verbalize where they are in their process and their goal for the day. I use the following key to track their responses:

Key for coding student progress during workshop:

BS/WP = brainstorming or writing off the page

D = drafting

R = revising

P = ready for publication

FB = preparing for feedback

PW = working with a partner

QC = in need of a quick conference

C = in need of a more in depth conference

T = searching for a topic

MT = working with mentor texts for guidance or inspiration

R = researching

If they tell me they are using a specific mini-lesson during drafting or revision, I write the name of the mini-lesson down instead of the generic code.

This cover sheet shows me a bird’s eye view of what is happening on any given day in each class. I usually highlight the boxes where conferences have occurred; it’s easier to identify which students I have not made enough contact with, which helps me prioritize my conferences for the next day.

Continue reading here …

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