The school system I work for implemented Lucy Calkins Writer's Workshop several years ago. Even after years of teaching this form of writing, I am still looking for ways to make it better. One thing I have done this year is allow the students to use pens while writing their drafts. They use black pens on lined paper to write out their stories. This way they do not spend all their time erasing what they have written. Instead, they mark our their mistakes (which also allows me to see their thought process) and write beside, above, or below their original work. Once they think they have finished their work, the next day they have the opportunity to use a red pen to edit their work. The red pen is 'magical' and can only be used to fix up their writing. They can add punctuation, capital letters, adjectives, details, stretching out their words better, using word wall words correctly, etc. When they use the red pen, they can use 'magical glasses' (cheap dollar store/party favor sunglasses) to find mistakes in their writing to edit. It is amazing to see how much responsibility they take for their writing when they get to use these special writing tools. When it is time for a writer's celebration, they choose one piece of writing from their writing folders and 'fancy it up'. This is the only time during writer's workshop they use a pencil. They re-write their chosen story, add colorful illustrations to it, and create a cover, all about the author page, and dedication page. My students absolutely love writing time, and one reason is because they get to use these pens and 'magical glasses'. It is amazing how little things can change the attitude of a child toward writing!
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