After doing some research, I made a few changes, and now my kids LOVE writing workshop time.
I showed this video clip of a Lucy Calkins interview. I started it at about the 1:25 mark. It really got my students thinking about how they can use their words to make a difference and the fact that their writing can and does matter. After watching the video, we discussed.
We used some sharpies to customize our writing folders with some of Lucy's words, "My words are powerful; My writing is gold." Now, these words of encouragement are the first things that my students see when they take their writing folders out of their desks. Sometimes, we chant it!!
I decided to change up the way our writing workshop looks. Instead of keeping students at their desks, I allow them to move anywhere in the room that they can concentrate. I also dim the lights and play some music. My kids are really into a "hip hop instrumental" playlist on Pandora. (Update: We also love Piano Guys radio!)
Usually I have our writing workshop instructions projected on the board, but my students get so excited when we "write by the fire." I like to use theinternetfireplace.com... it even makes fire sounds!
After our writing workshop period, I ALWAYS let some students share. We compliment each other and encourage each other, letting the students know that their words are indeed important and valued.
The progress I have seen my students make in writing is incredible!!! Do you have any other suggestions?