Sunday, September 20, 2015

Effective Writing Partners

Hi, this is Brandi from The Research Based Classroom.  It's still early in my school year, so I'm continually looking for ways to help set our classroom routine. Setting up good routines is especially important for writing workshop.  I am using Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for fifth grade and we are almost finished with the second bend of the unit in narrative writing. One of the most important things I want to get set up right now is my writing partnerships. I also want to get my students trained in how to respond to each other during their partner conferences. A good writing partner can really help an author work through their ideas, so training students to be effective partners now will help each author as we move through the year.

I spent a lot of time trying to find students that will work well together before I set up my writing partnerships. I took an on-demand writing assessment from the second day of school and divided my authors into 3 categories: above grade level, at grade level, and below grade level. Then I set my partnerships so that each reluctant writer is paired with another writer who is at grade. I want these partnerships to last for the year, so I really looked for personalities that will work well together. I assigned each writer in the partnership as either partner one or partner two. That way on days when I don't have enough time for both partners to share, I can assign one partner and then have the other partner share the next day

I am also spending time helping students learn how to be effective partners. From listing questions you should ask your partner on the board to demonstrating a partner share with everyone gathered around in a fish bowl, I'm trying to help my students learn to help one another.  This week I created an anchor chart from a mini-lesson that students can keep in their writing folders. Students can use it during a partner share to help them remember how they can be an effective partner. I want my students to give a lot better feedback than just saying, "It's great." Authors needs specific feedback to help them see things they can recreate in another writing piece or advice that helps them refine and revise their ideas. You can download the student version of this anchor chart by clicking on the picture below:

This is just a start in the right direction when it comes to teaching students to be better partners. We will undoubtably talk about this a lot during the year. I hope your young authors are learning how to support one another too.


  1. Thank you for the specific language so kids can phrase things in a positive way! I'm just teaching SC/SS but our whole school is doing writing for 30 minutes in the morning. I've had them peer edit and they don't naturally phrase things in a constructive way!

  2. It's great to see the way you use writing partners in your room! Thanks for the specific example too. Will be great to see it used in my room too.

    Learning to be awesome