Expect Unexpected Engagement When you try Hexagonal Thinking in ELA


Trailer: The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast
  • 00:00

110: Taking Writing Workshop Digital (It’s Easy), with Amanda Werner

pin it


So maybe you love workshop, and you did it all the time back when life felt normal, and you miss teaching through workshop now in your hybrid or online setting. Or maybe you’ve heard about workshop and always wondered if you’d like teaching that way. Well, good news! Today on the pod I’m welcoming Amanda Werner, workshop pro, to teach us how to use workshop to keep things simple, give kids choice, and allow for a consistent working structure online. You’ll be amazed at just how easy it can be to implement digital writing workshop with Amanda’s tips. 

Listen in on the player below or on your favorite podcast app of choice. Or, read on for the written highlights. 


Do you have your new planner ordered yet? This episode is brought to you in affiliate partnership with Erin Condren. I’ve customized my own planner for the last two years through the easy Erin Condren system, and I love the colorful, creative set-up that gives me room to plan my weeks the way I want. Plus, matching stickers?!  If you’re in the market for a 2021 planner, and you’d like something really lovely to help you look forward to organizing and planning your weeks, you can use my affiliate link to receive a $10 coupon on your first purchase. 

The Basics of Workshop Structure

Writing workshop is highly student-centered. It allows for lots of student choice, and in many ways, it’s the simplest way to go about teaching English, ideal for this present moment. 
Here’s how a class is generally laid out:
1. Mini-Lesson (10 Minutes): introduce the topic of the day, share mentor texts and writing activities. 
2. Work time: students write with you alongside them conferencing and helping when they need you.
3. Wrap-Up / Closure: bring everyone back together, potentially have students share some work or let them know next steps. 

An Easy Transition to Digital

It’s a great time to be teaching workshop and giving students choice. And workshop translates beautifully online. 
You can easily pre-record your mini-lessons to share with students. Then you can keep things simple and predictable for everyone’s sanity. 
After they watch your mini-lesson, give students lots of different options for what to write. Set up a Google Slide with different options for brainstorming or diving right in, and then link digital mentor texts for students to explore before they begin writing. As they approach the workshop segment of class, they get to choose what to write, how to write it, and how carefully to examine mentor texts. That’s a lot of choice! 
Try using Google Forms to check in with students at the end of class. Have kids share a favorite part of their writing or answer an open-ended question as they finish working. Then they have a chance to reflect and share, rather than just document that yes, they did the work, to check off a box. 
Amanda recommends the book, Point-Less, by Sarah Zerwin, for helpful ideas on feedback and check-ins for student writers. 

Digital Check-Ins & Conferencing

Everything right now is an experiment! Be honest with students about this. Try out new systems and you can always change them if they need tweaking. 
It’s not easy right now to have small group and one-on-one meetings. But you can let kids come to you with things they want to work on. Use consistent rubrics from the beginning of your workshop units so that when kids come to you they can point to something specific they’re struggling with and need help with. This will make your conferences more productive. 
You can also check in with students via their Google Docs, watching their writing process live and commenting back and forth. Teach them not to hit “resolve” on comments so the conversation continues. 
Finally, you might try assigning writing partners who can work together and share ideas during the writing process. 

Trying out Workshop without Switching Fully to the Method

You can use a lot from the workshop method whether or not you want to become a fully workshop teacher. Try quick recorded ten minute mini-lessons. Or choice writing boards with linked mentor texts. Or digital notebooks for regular writing. So many choices! Or you can jump in and try workshop for a full unit and then take what you love about it and tap back into that as you move forward into other types of units. 

Connect with Amanda Werner of Amanda Write Now

Learn about mentor texts, mini-lessons, workshop set-up and much more on Amanda’s Website

Do you find your inspiration in VISUALS? I love ‘em too. Let’s hang out on Instagram! Click here to get a steady stream of colorful ideas all week long.



hey there!

I'm Betsy

I’ll help you find the creative ELA strategies that will light up your classroom. Get ready for joyful teaching!







Need something great for tomorrow? Head on over to the free resources section.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ethical AI PBL Unit

3 Weeks of Attendance Questions

Better Discussion Toolkit


Almost there!

Just enter your email address below to register for Camp Creative: Ignite your Choice Reading Program and updates from Spark Creativity.
Don’t worry, spam’s not my thing.
Privacy Policy.