Each day we dedicate about forty-five minutes to writer's workshop. In the first fifteen, we
complete short grammar lessons, usually Daily Grammar Practice by Dawn Burnette. I also have the boys play games to reinforce skills or complete editing sheets during this time. The rest of the time is spent in the writing process. I give the boys one of many different graphic organizers to begin brainstorming. We use word webs, time lines, outlines, story maps, as well as many others. I then have the boys develop these further and do a very basic storyboard, explaining what will happen at the beginning of, in the middle of, and at the end of their stories.
After I think their thoughts are well organized, we begin the rough draft. When they were younger, they would dictate their stories to me and I would write or type them. Now, they are able to write independently. Know that their first drafts are no where near the quality of the published work. It takes weeks of editing, discussing ideas, and rewriting to get them polished. When I edit, I ask clarifying questions when the storyline becomes unclear or strays off topic. I also circle or mark misspellings or grammar mistakes that are within their range of ability to correct. I am also working toward having them edit each other's work. Finally, they publish their work by typing it and adding illustrations. They complete 3 or 4 published works per year.
Each year I submit their best stories to the Reading Rainbow Young Writer's and Illustrator's Contest. I have posted videos of the boys' final writing project for each year, 2006-2008, in "Our YouTube" gadget in the sidebar.
I am an advocate of "authentic" school work. This means having students create something or complete a task, rather than fill in blanks. I am so glad that I have been taking this approach with the boys because they have benefited greatly, but also, I have these wonderful mementos of their development.