In past years, I was never 100% satisfied with the way I’ve done literacy centers (and it’s a continued work in progress). I always felt that it could be better, specifically when it came to what the rest of the class was doing when I was working with a small group.
When I was first introduced to Daily 5, I caught feelings fast. “Where have you been all my life? If only I’d found you sooner!” I love that Daily 5 provides kids with choice. They have more buy-in because they get to choose which station they want to work at.
This system also put a lot of responsibility on the kids in regards to independent work, and with that came the need for student accountability. One of the work stations where I felt that accountability was most warranted was “Work on Writing.” How could I help motivate students to make the most of this independent writing time as well as get a pulse on what they were producing (without having to regularly pour over 32 notebooks)?
Author’s Chair has been the simple resounding answer to both of those questions. It has been the biggest motivation for my students and it gives me a quick glimpse into what students have actually been working on during “Work on Writing.”
When the kids have completed a piece of writing in their notebook that they can be proud of, they have the option to sign up to be a featured author. They sign up for a slot on our official Author’s Chair sign up sheet:
I have my second graders fill in their name, the title of their writing piece, as well as the genre of their writing. If you prefer a simplified version, I also have 2 other templates with “Name” and “Title” only or just a spot for them to write their name.
I go down the list and have the featured author read their work aloud to the class during Author’s Chair, which is a time we set aside every Friday. It’s something my class always looks forward to at the end of the week.
When a student reads their writing in front of the class, they sit in the special designated chair. A project I’d like to work on over the summer is a “Share Chair.” This one from @saralynnkirby on Instagram is one of my favorites I’ve seen that I may use as inspiration:
The featured author also gets to use our coveted class microphone when they read their writing aloud to the class. It’s the same one we use for family circle share time during Morning Meetings. It’s not as loud as I would have hoped when I first started using it, but it works well on “Echo” mode or even better with a Bluetooth speaker.
Author’s Chair was popular to begin with, but once I added the novelty of the microphone I did notice a considerable increase in sign-ups. It’s the little things that are always a big deal.
After a student finishes reading aloud their work to the class, I open it up to a couple of questions or comments to encourage active listening from the audience. When I first started doing this, I noticed that the kids made very similar comments or asked the same types of questions over and over. I wanted to find a way to guide them to more thoughtful responses than, “I liked it” or “It was really good.”
I started having them use these Author’s Chair Response cards, and these cards have been extremely helpful for the kids in asking different types of questions and giving more meaningful feedback to the author.
I laminated a class set and the kids keep it in their writing folders. They bring their card with them when they go sit on the carpet as members of the audience during Author’s Chair. It makes for a helpful visual reference when it is time to ask questions and give comments to the author.
If you’d like to use the student sign-up sheets and response cards for Author’s Chair with your class, they are available right here in my online store and also on TPT. Or, if you’d like them for FREE, click here to sign up for my email list and you’ll be sent a free copy to download.
The resource also includes a digital Google Slides version if you’d like to do Author’s Chair during distance learning. You can screen share the response card stems as students read aloud their writing via whichever live online platform you are using. This could also be used to project onto a screen if being used in person in the classroom.
Do you do Author’s Chair or something similar with your students? If so, what are some of your favorite ideas you have implemented with it? And if this is something new you would like to start trying out with your class, I would love to hear how it goes!