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Writing Workshop Tips: Tiny Tweaks, BIG Impact

You know what I love as a teacher?  Quick strategies that I can implement into my teaching with a snap.  Don’t you?  As a teacher who is trying to bring my A-game for every single subject every single day, sometimes I just need simple and to-the-point strategies to implement that will still show big results.  You all know how much I love to cultivate the little illustrators in my writing workshop… so I’ve got some fun strategies to share today!

When it comes to student writing, tiny tweaks can make a BIG impact!  When we explicitly teach students simple drawing strategies, we can lift the level of their illustrations significantly.  I have three easy tips to help students do just that!  

Tip 1: Pencils First!

You know what kids get excited about? Drawing with crayons and markers. They can’t help it. They just love it. But we need to help students understand that as illustrators, we have to draw EVERYTHING that will go into our picture with a pencil before color ever touches the page. 

What we want students to take away from this drawing tip is that illustrations look much crisper when we draw in pencil first.  Look at the illustrations below to see the difference:

This tip is an easy one that students can use to draw

Tip 2: Two Colors Only!

Has a student ever shown you a picture whose color scheme made no sense? I’m talking a blue and pink sky and green and orange grass. 

In my class when we begin drawing, we always start with a magic line in the middle of the page.  When we draw the line, we want the readers to see that there is a floor of some kind, and a background. That might be grass and sky or carpet and walls.  We use the magic line to emphasize these two different areas of the picture, but when students use multiple colors here it gets confusing!  

What we want students to understand is that when you draw a magic line picture, and you are filling in the top and bottom- you will only use TWO colors. Look at the example below to help students understand why this is such an important tip:

Tip 3: “POP” Those Details!

Now that the drawing and the coloring are done, we want students to see how important it is to protect the details and help them to POP.  How are we going to do that? You guessed it.  Now, it’s time for the marker!  They love this part. 

One thing I’ve noticed is students tend to draw all of their details in the magic line picture and in their attempt to color around those objects (the clouds, the people, the car, etc…) they color over those objects. The clouds get blue sky scribbles in them, the people end up blending into the wall, etc.  So to help those objects “POP” off the page, I teach students to draw a black line around them.  Look below at how big of a difference it makes:

Making a Big Impact

Look how simple those three tips were to implement into your writer’s workshop block.  Just by explicitly teaching students these three tiny tweaks, we can elevate their illustrations immensely and make a BIG impact.

Need more easy-to-implement tips like these to strengthen your writing block?  Check out my Writing Workshop bundles below.  Stop stressing over writer’s workshop and let me do the legwork for you!

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LaNesha Tabb

LaNesha Tabb

Wife, Mama of 2, and apron wearing primary educator from Indianapolis.

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