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Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5

This video workshop for grade 3-5 teachers demonstrates how writing workshops motivate students and help them become proficient writers.

Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 is currently under construction. The series is still available in full at

A video workshop for grades 3-5 teachers; 8 half-hour workshop video programs, 8 half-hour classroom video programs, workshop guide, and website.

This video workshop for elementary school teachers uses classroom footage to demonstrate how a writing workshop approach motivates intermediate students and helps them become proficient and independent writers. Ten teachers from across the country model teaching strategies and share reflections on their practice. Six nationally known experts in writing instruction comment on teaching and using the writing workshop approach with upper elementary students. The package includes eight 30-minute workshop programs, eight 30-minute classroom programs, a workshop guide, and a website.

About this Workshop

Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 uses authentic classroom footage to demonstrate how a writing workshop approach motivates intermediate students and helps them become more proficient and independent writers.

Sixteen half-hour videos feature footage of exemplary teachers in grades 3-5 modeling effective teaching strategies and reflecting on their practice, as well as brief interviews with national experts on teaching writing in the upper elementary grades. The videos are designed to be viewed in pairs in eight workshops.

Each workshop is supported online with a viewing guide, resources for teachers, and an interactive exercise. A Facilitator’s Guide offers a suggested agenda for a 2 1/2-hour workshop combining two videos and the corresponding Web activities. Facilitators can use this preview to promote the use of Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 within their schools.

Website and Print Guide

The Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 workshop and featured classroom videos are designed for individual or group professional development. Using the workshop guide, you can run a complete professional development workshop with colleagues or follow the videos by yourself. The guide features pre- and post-viewing activities and discussion questions to help you use the videos. It also includes readings, interactive components, facilitator tips, and individual or group activities that expand each topic beyond the video.

You can access the guide online, or print it from Support Materials.

To help you get the most out of the workshop, the online guide is organized into the following sections:

Workshop Main Page
The main page for each individual workshop provides a brief overview of the topic, outlines the different sections, and presents the workshop’s learning goals.

Prepare for the Workshop
The workshop preparation page includes a warm-up activity and readings to be completed before viewing the videos. Complete the readings and chart to stimulate your thinking about the workshop topic.

Analyze the Videos
This section includes a summary of the videos, key practices to observe, and pages with questions and activities for each of the two videos featured in the workshop. You can watch the videos in their entirety (each video is 30 minutes long) or in segments.

Extend Your Learning
This section consists of two parts: Examine Your Practice and an interactive exercise. Examine Your Practice presents a quote or excerpt on the teaching strategies presented in the workshop, followed by guiding questions. The interactive exercise lets you explore the strategies more thoroughly.

Put It Into Practice
This section helps you to apply what you have learned to your own teaching practices. The activities are designed to assist you in developing resources for your classroom.

Reflect on Your Learning
This final section encourages you to review what you have learned and think about changes you would like to make in your practice. Answer the questions to summarize your understanding of the topic. This assignment completes each workshop.

The Printouts page includes a complete list of the readings, charts, and any other materials needed for the workshop. If you lack regular access to a printer, you may want to print all documents for a session from this page at one time.

The Assignments page provides a list of the required assignments for the workshop. You can use this page to make sure you have completed all the assignments required for professional development or graduate credit.

The Resources page provides a list of helpful books, articles, and Web sites to supplement the information found in each workshop.

Using the Guide

If you are working alone:

  • Identify your goals as you prepare for the session.
  • Use the questions to generate self-reflection.
  • Write responses to questions in a notebook to review at a later date.

If you are working in a group:

  • Prepare for the session before meeting with the group.
  • Use the questions to stimulate discussion.
  • Compare experiences to better understand literacy instruction in different grades.
  • Collaborate in planning activities and developing resources.

Individual Video Descriptions

Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 features 16 30-minute videos designed to stand alone or be viewed as a whole. If you are taking this workshop for credit, you must view all 16 programs. You can watch each video in its entirety, or watch it in segments as you take the corresponding workshop. The videos are designed to be viewed in pairs consecutively.

The first video explores how teachers in grades 3-5 create classrooms that nurture and support the writing confidence of all students and help them forge unique writing identities. It relies on narration, interviews with literacy experts, and multiple classroom illustrations to communicate and support the learning goals identified for the workshop. The instructional content of these videos will be reinforced by the reading assignments, pre-workshop activities, and discussion questions posted on the Web site.

The second video is built into the latter part of the two-and-one-half hour workshop. These videos feature extended classroom applications narrated exclusively by the teachers themselves along with commentary from literacy experts. The focus of the second video is narrowed to one or two subtopics introduced in the first video.


Program 1. Building a Community of Writers
How can teachers in grades 3-5 create classrooms that nurture and support all students’ confidence in their ability to write and help them forge their own writing identities? This program explores strategies and practices to help establish successful writing communities within classrooms.

Program 2. Teacher as Writer
This program shows third-grade teacher Latosha Rowley sharing her writing with her students and reflecting on the experience as a writer and as a teacher. It also includes several vignettes featuring other teachers who build community in their classrooms through modeling and sharing their own writing.


Program 3. Reasons for Writing
This program examines practices that motivate students to write: choosing their own topics and making writing decisions, keeping a writer’s notebook for recording their thoughts, focusing on authentic audiences for their writing, and having opportunities to publish their pieces.

Program 4. Fostering Choice and Independence
Viewers will see strategies and practices that encourage students to write. Teacher Mark Hardy’s first days of school provide an example as he sets up the writing workshop by allowing his third graders to choose both the genre and the topic for their first pieces. Silvia Edgerton’s fifth-grade class engages in a status-of-the-class activity.


Program 5. Reading Like a Writer
The relationship between reading and writing in the intermediate classroom is explored. The program demonstrates ways in which reading inspires students and helps them learn the craft of writing, including the use of touchstone and mentor texts.

Program 6. Reading/Writing Connections
Through interviews and classroom footage, this program demonstrates how teachers, including Christine Sanchez, Cristina Tijerina, Sheryl Bock, and Mark Hansen, incorporate works by published authors into their writing instruction.


Program 7. Teaching the Writing Craft
This program examines whole-class instruction in the writing workshop, looking at why teachers choose this type of instruction and how they integrate it with other instructional strategies such as working with individuals and small groups.

Program 8. Teaching a Specific Writing Strategy
Silvia Edgerton teaches her fifth-grade students how to make their writing more vivid by zooming in on details, shown in a lesson unfolding over several days.


Program 9. Conversations With Student Writers
The program demonstrates how teachers incorporate conferences with students into their writing instruction. Viewers will see how teachers structure conferences, choose a teaching focus for the conference, and keep records of their interactions. The emphasis is on practical strategies and on the fundamental benefit of responding personally to student writing.

Program 10. Teacher Conferences
This program features extensive footage of three effective student/teacher conferences in one fifth-grade and two third-grade classes. These conferences demonstrate how teachers use conferences to focus on instruction for individuals while helping students feel ownership of their work.


Program 11. Conversations Among Writing Peers
One way to provide an authentic audience for young writers is to have them share their work with each other. This program shows how teachers help students respond to their peers by modeling appropriate behavior and teaching protocols for student responses.

Program 12. Peer Conferences
Third-grade teacher Jeanne Boiarsky teaches a peer conference protocol to her class and Lindsay Dibert’s fifth-grade class uses a different peer conference strategy in revising personal narratives.


Program 13. Learning To Revise
For elementary-age children, revision is often new and challenging. This program shows how teachers overcome students’ resistance to changing their writing by providing concrete and effective revision strategies.

Program 14. Modeling Revision
Nicole Outsen guides her fifth-grade students through revising an introduction to a newspaper article. She uses her own research notes to model the thinking and decision-making that writers do.


Program 15. Writing Across the Curriculum
This program explores how teachers incorporate writing into other subjects and bring subject-area content into the writing workshop. It includes examples from several classrooms including fifth, fourth, and third grades.

Program 16. Writing in Science
The final program provides an example of content-area writing in a fifth-grade science class: recording observations about chicken bones as part of a lesson on anatomy.


To help you get the most out of the video programs, use the questions for reflection provided in each workshop as you watch.

Facilitator's Tips

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Technical Information

To use the Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 workshop Web guide, we recommend the following:

Web browser:

Firefox 1.0, Netscape 7.0, Internet Explorer 5.0, or Safari 1.2 or higher versions of any of these browsers. (JavaScript should be enabled.) Text fonts and colors may not be displayed correctly in older browsers.


To print a hard-copy version of this guide and the other materials provided, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in. You can download this plug-in for free.

Who's Who

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Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 is produced by Kentucky Educational Television.

Inside Writing Communities, Grades 3-5 website is produced by Kentucky Educational Television in collaboration with WGBH Interactive.

Copyright 2007 Annenberg Media. All rights reserved.

Video Credits

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Web Credits

For KET:

Web Site Coordinator

Marianne Mosley

Curriculum Developers

Mary Duncan, Ph.D.
Marianne Mosley

Contributing Writers

Ray Smith
Charles Whitaker, Ph.D.
Jack Wilde

Core Advisors

Deborah Batiste
Kathy Egawa
Leslie Flanders
Lydia Wells-Sledge

Web Advisory Panel

Deborah Batiste
Chuck Duncan
Leslie Flanders
Lydia Wells-Sledge


Executive Producer

Ted Sicker

Melanie MacFarlane

Lisa Rosenthal

Web Developer
Joe Brandt

Business Manager
Jim Barton

Unit Manager
Amy Stahl

Additional Resources

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Produced by The Kentucky Educational Television Foundation, Inc. 2007.
  • ISBN: 1-57680-863-7