Skip to main content

Writer's Workshop... In Social Studies!!!!

Being a social studies teacher (and former language arts teacher), I have always taught my share of writing but over the years the focus has changed. Right now, my department is really trying to implement the Common Core so we are no longer focusing on the five paragraph essay (thank the education gods!) and really moving towards writing frequently with a focus on summarizing and argument writing. We have been doing persuasive writing for quite some time but we are aligning the vocabulary to that of the CCSS (i.e. persuasive to argument, thesis to claim, etc.) and again, we have been working on quality as opposed to length. Many years ago we had adopted the John Collins Writing Program and we recently brought Mr. Collins back to our school to share his ideas on the CCSS. His biggest push was for us to help students learn to grapple with complex texts through completing an assignment called a 10% Summary (
This sheet really does a nice job of guiding them through the process of summarizing. The next thing I wanted to work on was writing an argument piece on a gun debate article from The New York Times Upfront Magazine. I have been using these articles for years and had created a pretty good graphic organizer to help the kiddos create their rough draft. I decided to switch it up a bit and instead turned the organizer into a notebook foldable.
I decided to truly launch these I wanted to run a writer's workshop. Of course, being a middle school social studies teacher I really didn't know what a writer's workshop was!!!! I spent my MLK weekend studying up online and on the almighty Pinterest and put this together......

I set up their work stations with scissors, glue and sticky notes and had the handouts on the back table. The first thing we did was the 10% Summary sheet. I broke the assignment into two parts and initially gave them 5 or so minutes to gather the information for the topic sentence (i.e. title, source, etc.). At the bottom of the paper the kids were to write three to four main ideas. In order to set up a climate of modeling, I had each kid in the group grab two sticky notes where they were to write two different ideas that they found to be integral to the understanding of the article. The kiddos then shared their stickies with each other and as a group chose the three best main ideas. The kids loooooved this and it worked brilliantly. It really helped the kids who were having difficulty to actually see well written main ideas. For the kids that understood the concept, it allowed them to hone their evaluation skills.

Next we did the argument article, which my kiddos had already done many times this year so I just had to teach them how to use the notebook foldable. They thought it was magic because once you have completed every tab of the foldable, your rough draft is all done!!!
To finish these all up we headed on down to the computer lab, typed these up on Google Drive and now I have some fabulous artifacts for their writing portfolios.
I really loved the idea of working on the writing collaboratively and got a lot of commendations from the students for making it so easy. As time goes on I will wean them off of the collaboration but I really do think it brings down the writing anxiety when we begin a new type of writing. Overall I consider this a success!
If you are interested in my Argument Writing Foldable, mosey on over to Teachers Pay Teachers to take a look!


  1. I love doing workshops! I teach an entire after school course this way. Thanks for posting and sharing your ideas. I think I may incorporate your sticky note idea into my classes the next time I teach creative writing. Here's a post on how I teach workshop-style for my ESL students in Korea:


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Grudgeball.. a Review Game Where Kids Attack!

I have long been a huge fan of using games in the classroom.  Much like sneaking broccoli into the pizza sauce, I have always felt that games were that perfect balance of teaching and engagement.  When I first started, my consummate go to was Jeaopardy but..... Holy work Batman! Setting that all up was extremely time consuming.  I wanted to find a way to have a quick go to game I could use with any set of questions.  I bought myself a Nerf hoop and did a straight game of answer the question, get it right, shoot the ball and earn points.  For a majority of the kids this was enough but for one of my classes, nothing could get them excited.  For them, this game was accompanied by the sound of crickets, followed by awkward silence, followed again by crickets.
I came up with the solution one night while watching Survivor.  The contestant competed in a challenge where they answered trivia questions about their teammates.  For every question they got correct they got to put a coconut in the…

250 Virtual Field Trips.... most of them are free!

If you have been following my blog lately, you will know that I am absolutely (and probably ridiculously!!! ) obsessed with virtual field trips.  I promise I will blog about something different soon but I have one last thing.  I have been working on organizing all the field trips I find into one sheet and I was just able to make it into a searchable database!   So search away and make some connections!  Let me know if you take any of these field trips!  I would love to hear how others are using them in their classrooms!!! This list is ever growing so bookmark this and keep coming back when you are planning next year!

Crime Scene In The Classroom!!!!

*** I have updated the resources and website for this activity.  Access the resources here and the website here!
*** If you would like to see how the simulation evolved, click here!
I had such an amazing class today I just couldn't wait to blog about it! I've been doing decent teaching since I started at my new school but every time I chat with my Teach Like A Pirate peeps (#tlap Mondays at 9 eastern and #sstlap at Thursdays at 9 eastern) I feel really inadequate. I knew I had to try to do a lesson I could sell a ticket to and even though I almost decided to scrap it five different times I finally made myself do it and it was fabulous!

I decided to create a detective agency where we were going to determine if the British soldiers at the Boston Massacre were guilt of murder or simply acted in self defense. I borrowed very heavily from this website and got a lot of inspiration from a video that I now can't find but I'll post it as soon as I find it. In the video, th…