6 Tips for Creating a Writing Environment
As a writing teacher, you will want to conference with all your students as many times as possible. I prefer to go to my students when I am doing one on one conferencing, but when I am meeting with a small group I will set up an area/space for us to meet together. I have noticed that students stay more focused on their independent writing if I am moving around the classroom than when I stay in one spot! So with this in mind, the arrangement of classroom desks, tables, chairs, etc. need to be in such a way that it is easy for me to quickly move around the classroom and to draw alongside students.
Students have a regular writing spot. During writing time, my students may stay at their desks, but I like to give them the option to find a writing spot anywhere in the classroom. As I know that some students will be sitting on the floor, I provide floor cushions and a few comfy chairs that are not the standard school chairs. The carpet area is also available as a writing spot. Once students have chosen their writing spot, that is where they are expected to work during writing time. They will have a chance to change their spots later on in the year, or when the current spot is not helping them to produce their best work.
Consider adding inexpensive table lamps and/or floor lamps to your classroom décor to help create a writing mood.
Once students are writing, I like to play very gentle background music to help create a writing atmosphere. It also signals that it is our writing time. As I do not want students to be distracted by the music, I prefer to play the same music each writing session. You might prefer more of a variety. Try it and see what works best for you and your students!
Establish a writing center where students will have easy access to materials that they can use during writing time without your supervision. This will free you up to conference with students uninterrupted. In your writing center you could have papers, pens, pencils, markers, pencil sharpeners, scissors, etc. I would avoid having too many items as you want students to be more focused on their writing than spending time deciding which materials they want to use. As the school year moves forward, you will be able to decide the essential tools for the writing center that you want to provide for your students.
Have a variety of dictionaries available. Usually elementary classes will have just one kind of dictionary available to students. Instead of this, try to have on grade level dictionaries, above grade level dictionaries, easy dictionaries, illustrated dictionaries, easy picture dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, etc., and of course, access to online dictionaries. You do not have to have a class set of each of these dictionaries. The availability of dictionaries means the spelling needs of all students can be met. Many times, students will get fixated on spelling and miss out on developing their writing, so I do not encourage them to use a dictionary until they are at the editing stage. When they are ready, the dictionaries are a go!