In-class writing workshops

Writing workshops in the classroom


To learn to ski, it is better to hit the slopes as often as possible. The principle is the same for writing: students must practice it frequently. At Cœurs-Vaillants elementary school in Quebec City, writing workshops are part of everyday life.

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Writing workshops in class

Practice writing more often in class

The more teachers get their students to write short texts, the more they will be able to improve different aspects of their writing, says Pascale Lefrançois, dean of the Faculty of Education at the Université de Montréal. 

< p>“There are automatisms to develop. It's like training at the gym three times a week,” she says. 

Writing workshops, logbook, collective or relay writing: whatever the formula , all means are good to get students to write more often, according to several experts consulted.

Subjects that have meaning

To encourage students to put their heart into it, it is also preferable to offer them writing situations that have meaning for them, in order to show them concretely what is the use of writing and giving them a taste for handling words, they add.

Writing workshops in the classroom

Pascale Lefrançois Courtesy

To teachers who are afraid of increasing their burden of corrections, many point out that it is not necessary to correct the texts each time taking into account all the evaluation criteria. “We can focus on certain criteria only, depending on what has just been taught in class,” says Pascale Lefrançois, from the University of Montreal.

Teachers who have tried the adventure are impressed by the results, like this teacher from Quebec whose workshops make her students happy.

Monsters for Everyone

In Ms. Karine's class, in second grade, the students are preparing to write the description of a monster that they have invented from scratch, in the style of Élise Gravel, one of their favorite authors. 

Hairy monster eating socks or cyclops devouring slimy earthworms, there will be something for everyone.

Three times a week, these students play with words as part of a well-supervised project. Each writing workshop begins with a ten-minute mini-lesson that allows the teacher to target very specific concepts. During the passage of the Diary, the students learned how to organize their ideas in order to describe their monster.

“Once you've tasted it, you don't want to go back. The students really develop a taste for writing, they are motivated and that makes all the difference,” says teacher Karine Raymond-D’Amour.       

Same story from his colleague, Geneviève Pigeon, who teaches sixth grade. The comics created by his students will soon be presented in a book fair attended by classmates.

“The students are very motivated to correct themselves and rework their texts, we can go much further with them. I see a marked improvement,” she says.

In this school located in a disadvantaged area of ​​Quebec, where students come from more than 70 countries, the success rates in writing in primary school skyrocket between the second and sixth grade, rising from 85 to 98%.

A still marginal practice

Writing workshops, which are inspired by the work of researchers at Columbia University in New York, are gaining popularity in Quebec schools, even if the practice is still marginal, according to Yves Nadon, teacher and author who contributed to make this method known in Quebec.

“What makes a big difference is also that the teachers feel competent,” he says.

Teachers can closely monitor the progress of each of their students and readjust their mini-lessons along the way, according to their needs. “Yes, the workload is greater, but we can do a very individualized follow-up, so we really see the students progress quickly,” notes teacher Marie-Pierre Blanchette.

At secondary too

Seduced by the formula, high school teachers are also adopting it. Maryse Quintin, who teaches secondary one at André-Laurendeau high school in Saint-Hubert, takes the opportunity to have her students work as a team. Writing is done solo, but the text will be proofread by a classmate.

“By working in partnership, they motivate each other and become role models for others. They do not write only for themselves or the teacher, they also write for others. The concern to correct themselves comes from them,” says Ms. Quintin.

By starting the school year with writing workshops, it is easier to introduce grammar concepts later. The students are then much more receptive to it, explains the teacher. “They are even the ones who ask for it,” she says with a smile.

Continue reading Solutions to improve French More than 40% of students fail spelling at the end of secondary 1. Practice to write more often in class 2. Tackling French mistakes in all subjects 3. Making students think through dictations 2.0 4. Introducing students to writing from kindergarten onwards 5. Better training teachers 6. Stake on books to learn to love words 7. Do not reduce French teaching time 8. Track students from the start of their journey 9. Revise French programs 10. Work as a team to overcome writing difficulties

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