Writing Workshop Celebration!

We had our first writing celebration in my class!  I LOVE writing celebrations, so I thought I would share how I do them.

Let me preface this by saying that it took me a few years of experimenting to find a structure that works for me.  It is by no means the only way to do it, but I love how our celebrations really build pride in my young writers.

So this is what we do.  At the end of a unit we spend a few days “publishing.”  My kids select their favorite piece from their writing folder (according to some criteria) and then fix it up and color it.  For our first unit there is not much fixing up, so the big deal is that they can color the picture.  (We only use pens and pencils at other times.)  I mount their piece on construction paper and transcribe their text on the construction paper.  This way they will be able to read it in years to come, but I am not actually writing on their work, which I think can be deflating to kids.  Here are a few examples of the published pieces we had this time:

As you can see, their skills are all across the map, which is pretty typical this time of year in kindergarten.

Next, I schedule a celebration, and I invite guests.  I ask the principal, special ed teachers, parapros, speech therapists, literacy coaches – anyone who might be able to spare fifteen minutes (and so generally people who do not have their own class).  I also ask my husband and daughter to come, which has become a wonderful tradition.

On the morning of the celebration I stick all of the published pieces up on to a piece of butcher paper, creating a gallery of sorts.

I then cover the gallery up.  Right now I do that by hanging a blanket in front of it.  The blanket is clipped up on a string using two clothespins.  In the past, when I was in a different room, I used our pull down shade.  The point is to cover it.  This creates instant intrigue, and it allows for a big reveal!

When the celebration starts, we begin by listing all the things that we learned in the unit.  This is a great review, and also lets the kids know that we are celebrating specific growth.  I am always surprised and thrilled at how many specific points they can remember!  Here is our completely student generated list from this celebration:

Once this part is finished, we have the reveal!  Counting down from five, we drop the curtain and clap and cheer as the kids get the first sight of their gallery of work!  They are always thrilled to find their pieces displayed.  I then slowly remove the pieces one by one from the gallery.  When I take one down, that student author stands and bows as we clap for him or her specifically.  This is also very powerful, as each student gets recognition for their work.

Finally, I hand out the pieces and the students read them to our guests.  This part is amazing.  The kids get opportunities to read their work multiple times to special people.  They answer questions, and they are incredibly proud.  They are often very surprised, and thrilled, to learn that people came to our room just to hear their writing.  I think this is huge in terms of building writing identity and a sense of audience – in terms of building writers.  Here are a few snaps of these powerful moments:

Do you have writing celebrations in your class?  How do you celebrate?

15 Responses to Writing Workshop Celebration!

  1. Tina October 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    This is so precious! I love that you are building them as writers so young!! Fabulous!

  2. Teaching Ace October 19, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    Glad you like it. It is so fun!

  3. Catherine R. October 20, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Love it! I was just trying to come up with a way for our first celebration…I may use your idea! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Teaching Ace October 20, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    Great – please let me know how it goes!

  5. Venus October 20, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    That is such a wonderful way to celebrate their work. It has so many educational, and emotional benefits. I really love the big reveal as a gallery. At our school each class usually creates a theme for the student to write about and pulls all the work together to publish a class book. The parents come in for a presentation of the class book, and are able to purchase hard cover copies to bring home. It’s really cute, and the kids get to go back and look at everyone’s work. I think I have about five books so far, from my two children’s past classes.

    I have to say, my own children struggle with writing. It is very messy, and the process is uncomfortable for them, so they really don’t like most writing. However, my son loves to tell stories. His teacher and I use that to encourage him to write his stories. He usually draws them, but adds a little writing as well. In class him and his friends discuss their stories and the next ones they are going to write. This has been huge for him. He is more willing to write, is excited about it, and he gets practice writing without it being tedious and uncomfortable. It has also had the benefit of pulling him out of his shell, another really huge thing for him. He just got his first second grade report card with tons of improvement, plus a wonderful comment from his teachers. Last year they were not going to advance him, and I did not agree with that. I was very close to pulling him out, to homeschool him, but my husband made me discuss it with his principle, also my boss. After I explained my reasoning for him to advance, discussing it with his teachers, and completing some testing, she agreed to let him move forward. I am so glad.

  6. Teaching Ace October 21, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    I love the idea of a published book! I think it would be wonderful to be able to have a hard copy, expanding on the message that their writing is real and important. I also think it would be great to have copies available in the school library for students to check out.

    Good for you for advocating for your son! There is very little research to suggest that repeating a grade is beneficial, and actually it is usually the contrary. I think it is very important to remember that kids come with different skills, and we have to be careful not to undervalue their talents just because they are not what we are ready to teach. Oral language, which it sounds like your son is excellent at, is critical to being a writer with voice and heart, so I imagine he is well on his way. Writing is so much more than just putting it down on paper!

    • Venus October 22, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      Thank you so much for the encouraging words! I totally agree with you. He has always been a huge story teller, and he’s also really good at math. We want to start typing up all his stories so he can get them printed. I think that would be a big boost for his little ego. I was looking at the comments from the teacher for him and his sister and both complemented them for being the kindest kids in class. That was a nice boost for my ego!

  7. Teaching Ace October 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    What a great idea! If the physical writing is a struggle, typing is a great option. I often think this is underrated, as almost everything we do in college and adult life MUST be typed! Sounds like you have wonderful kids.

  8. Nina January 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    This is such a lovely idea. Thank you for sharing!

    • Teaching Ace January 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm #


  9. Mary Hood February 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I love how you take the tedious part out of holding a celebration (with over 30 kids in our CA classroom, having them all listen to each other as they read is affirming, but the youngest ones get tired)! Having the kids read their stories to individuals attending the celebration is genius! Can’t wait to update my workshop to include this! Thank you, thank you!!

    • Teaching Ace February 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      You’re welcome! I love that it takes the kids off the spot. They are so comfortable reading one on one with a guest, and they don’t need to worry about the whole group (which is intimidating for some of them.) Hope your kids enjoy the celebration as much as mine do!

  10. Cris February 26, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    Wonderful idea! I think it’s great I can start small.

  11. Sharon March 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Love the reveal. I’ve held many writing celebrations in my first grade class after each unit. We have invited 2nd grade, our 4th grade Book Buddies, principals. The first time we only hold t. For our class…private. Kids like that. Other times we hold a Wax Museum. After reviewing our writing skills, like you do, each visitor gents a few post- it’s to listen and give a snappy compliment. I write sample compliments. My kiddies love this.

    • Teaching Ace March 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

      Great ideas! I would love to invite other students – maybe former students – to a celebration. I just may try that! Thanks.