In the Classroom: Writing in Your “Office”

After an immersion in the Cinderella story, my 4th graders are now deep into writing their own.  They read, talked, and considered what this tale type was, the broader theme as we see it in everything from a Cinderella sports team, Harry Potter, Abraham Lincoln, and (my current favorite) Susan Boyle.  Adam Gidwitz came last week and talked about his writing process and then got my students talking about the emotional truth within the Cinderella story and how they could relate to it.  He’s coming back this week to work with them again and I can’t wait to see how what he says and does with them affects their writing.  I’ve already read their first drafts and they are fascinating.

Because I want to watch kids’ process and help them with it I tend to have them do most of their writing in school.  And so when they started these Cinderella stories I gave each of them an “office.” That is, a space where they are to work as if they are alone in an office as many an author is.  They are not allowed to talk to me, to a neighbor, to a friend while writing. It is to be just them and their writing.  All of them are in their school desks, but some of them are moved so that they are not too close to someone else.  And because they, of course, might want to know what to do when a problem comes up (as they aren’t allowed to ask me or a peer unless it is a technological emergency) we put together a list of tips which we will be adding to as we go on.  For your information, here is the current list:

Writing the Story

  • Delete and rewrite.
  • Save and then delete.
  • Look at plan.
  • Look at books for ideas.
  • Check online (e.g. details about soccer).
  • keep writing.
  • think about showing with action and dialog.
  • Use books to help with form (e.g. dialog).
  • Think about voice — who is telling the story?
  • Try changing first to third person or third to first person.
  • WWMD: (what would Monica — Ms. Edinger that is — do?) keep writing/print out what she has so far and read over with a pencil.
  • WWAD:  (what would Adam Gidwitz do?)  try writing from a different place in the story,  tell it to the wall, the pillow, the chair, and the lamp (and hope it goes on),  think about how would YOU feel in a similar situation or how have YOU felt.


  • Use your dictionary.
  • Use your grammar/spell check.
  • Think hard.
  • WWMD: wouldn’t spend too much time fretting about it, but move on. She knows it can be fixed later.


Filed under In the Classroom

4 responses to “In the Classroom: Writing in Your “Office”

  1. I wish I could have been your student in the fourth grade, Monica.


  2. Sara

    Love the student “office” idea! I once taught 4th grade and wish I would have used that idea myself.


  3. I am teacher from India and teach 3rd and 4th Grade students. Will try this idea on them. Lets see how it works.


  4. Pingback: In the Classroom: Teaching Hacks | educating alice

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