Authentic Writing Centers

Do you have a writing center in your classroom? If you run Guided Reading in your classroom or follow the Daily 5 approach to ELA centers (or a modified version of it), then you probably do. But may I question your writing center for a moment? Let's reflect on these points together. Are your students writing for an authentic purpose? Are they writing for a real audience? Are your writing centers simulating a real-life writing experience that your students will one day be asked to do in the future? If not, give me just a few moments of your time and let's rethink writing centers in our classrooms.

You see, I am ALL FOR the fun, playful, imaginative writing where students are creating characters and settings that live in a fantasy world. The students get really excited to write those pieces, don't they? I think those types of writing experiences serve a purpose and are useful in the classroom, I do. But I also think that students need to have writing opportunities that simulate a simplified version of the type of writing that they might one day be asked to do in their future career, whatever that may be. I'll get into some examples, but first, can we all agree that our students need experience in authentic writing prompts?

Let me paint a picture for you. When I first started teaching, I didn't think that writing to a prompt would ever serve a purpose. I had read research that suggested that very point. So that's what my writing center looked like. It was a writing center that was free-write - no prompts, no direction, basically just a list of things they could write (letters, poems, stories, cards, etc.) and let me tell you... that's where I was failing my students.

It was in perfect timing that I was asked to pilot the Common Core Standards into my primary classroom. This was in 2011, friends, and boy were my eyes opened to a whole new rigor of teaching and learning. I began to see that real-world practice was going to become an integral part of our learning experience. I remember reading the words "college and career-ready" and something clicked for me and I realized that our writing needed to be more rigorous, even for my 2nd graders. What I was currently doing in writing centers was not enough. Not nearly enough.

So I created a set of monthly writing activities based around the Common Core Standards that offered my students the opportunities to write for an authentic purpose and to a real audience. Each month my students were able to practice narrative, opinion, informative/explanatory, and shared research writing. The topics were ones that my students enjoyed and helped my students' writing to flourish over the coming months. It was truly a game-changer.

These writing pieces serve as a portfolio of rough drafts for the students. As teachers, we often ask our students to take every piece of writing to the publishing phase and, in my opinion, that's just not necessary. With that being said, these drafts can easily be taken to the publishing phase at a later date if the students choose to. But for now, in our writing centers, let's just allow our students to enjoy the writing process with topics that interest them.

You can easily create authentic writing prompts on your own or you can purchase the monthly writing activities that I have already created where all the work is done for you! Either way, let's transform our writing centers in our classrooms - together!

You can check out these monthly writing activities in my TPT Store by clicking on the pictures above or visiting the following links:

... or check them out individually {here}.

Please let me know if you have any questions by using the "Ask a Question" tab in my TPT Store

Happy Writing!


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