We Need to ‘Slow Down’ When Teaching Writing is the headline of one of my Education Week Teacher columns. It finishes up a four-part series on teaching writing.
Eight Ways To Help English Language Learners Feel Motivated To Read & Write is the headline of one of my posts for The British Council.
I’ve published a number of posts on writing instruction, and thought I’d bring them all together into one “The Best” list.
I’ve previously posted tons of lists sharing sites that are useful in writing instruction, but none collecting posts I’ve written about what to actually do in the classroom.
The Best Sites To Learn About Advertising
The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary
The Best Online Interactive Exercises For Writing That Are Not Related To Literary Analysis
The Best Online Resources To Teach About Plagiarism
The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills
The Best Sites For Students To Create & Participate In Online Debates
The Best Online Resources For Helping Students Learn To Write Persuasive Essays
The Best Spelling Sites
The Best Sites For Gaining A Basic Understanding Of Adjectives
The “Best” Sites For Helping Students Write Autobiographical Incident Essays
The Best Sites To Learn “Feelings” Words
The Best Sites For ELL’s To Learn About Punctuation
The Best Resources To Help Students Write Research Essays
The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story
The Best Writing Advice From Famous Authors
The Best Resources On Punctuation
The Best Resources On Getting Student Writers To “Buy-Into” Revision – Help Me Find More
And, now, here are my writing instruction posts:
I published a four-part series on teaching writing over at my Education Week blog. Here’s a link to the final post in that series — it contains links to the previous three, too.
“Instead of seeing students as Far Below Basic or Advanced, we see them as learners” is a guest post written by my colleague Lara Hoekstra.
I’ve posted a collection of all my Education Week Teacher posts on teaching reading and writing. It includes contributions from lots of great educators.
Julie Goldman, the Coordinator of the great WRITE Institute that creates curriculum for English Language Learners, has written an excellent article on “Research-Based Writing Practices For English Language Learners,” which you can download for free here.
500 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing is from The New York Times Learning Network.
How to celebrate students’ writing is from Ray Salazar.
Micro Writing: Writing to learn in ESL is from ELT Connect.
The Teacher Tip: Don’t Fix the Story. Just Listen. is by Barry Lane.
Rachael Roberts – Motivating students to write is from The British Council.
Learning to Write Like a Reader: Teaching Students How to Edit and Do Peer-Review is from Teaching Learning/Learning Teacher.
301 Prompts for Argumentative Writing is from The New York Times Learning Network.
Constructive Peer Editing: Free Handout Included! is by Emily Guthrie. She shares such an obvious and easy improvement on typical peer-editing, you might feel as dumb as I did for not thinking about it before (that is, if you haven’t).
Supporting Good Writing Instruction is from The National Writing Project.
Mindshift, the popular KQED blog, has published an excerpt from one of my books they’ve titled What Motivates A Student’s Interest in Reading and Writing.
Concise and Precise Micro-writing is from Alex Quigley, and offers some very good suggestions.
Adventures with gallery critique is by Andy Tharby.
— NYT Learning Network (@NYTimesLearning) June 11, 2015
— Teacher (@Primary_Ed) May 27, 2015
Brilliant guide to “writing good”! https://t.co/Ep1hsUF0sr
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) April 12, 2015
Nine Ways to Help Students Embrace the Revision Process is by John Spencer.
“They Say, I Say” Is A Great Writing Resource (links to many useful sentence-starters and templates)
— Writing Project (@writingproject) July 25, 2015
Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools is a very useful report suggested to me by reader Marie.
— Cornelius Minor (@MisterMinor) August 6, 2015
Dylan Wiliam advises: Forget the Rubric; Use Work Samples Instead is a pretty important post by Doug Lemov. Be sure to also check out Dylan William’s comment on it.
At First Glance: A Sentence Starter Adds Unexpected Rigor to Writing and The Art of the Sentence are both by Doug Lemov.
How I Teach My English-Language Learners to Love Writing is by Mary Ann Zehr and appeared in Ed Week.
— Cornelius Minor (@MisterMinor) October 17, 2015
An Anchor Chart Mashup is from Two Writing Teachers.
Infusing Information Writing Throughout the Day: Diving Into Information Writing is from Two Writing Teachers.
Hochman’s ‘But, Because, So’ Sentence Expansion Activity is from Doug Lemov.
Syrian and Iraqi refugees seek freedoms cherished by all Americans is from The Washington Post.
Here is an excerpt:
I plan on have students read this piece and respond to this writing prompt:
How does Khalil Tawil suggest the United States should respond to refugees? To what extent do you agree or disagree with what he believes? To support your position, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.
5 Non-Negotiables When Designing Writing Instruction is from Three Teachers Talk.
The Writing Recipe: Essay Structure For English Language Learners is from The Teaching Channel:
10 Surefire Ideas to Remove Writing Roadblocks is by Regie Routman at Middleweb.
On the Impossibility of Teaching Creative Writing is from The Huffington Post.
Here’s An Example Of How I Scaffold A Short Writing Prompt
A Useful Lesson When Teaching Problem/Solution Essays – & Other Topics
Our 100 Most Popular Student Questions for Debate and Persuasive Writing is from The New York Times Learning Network.
— Sukhi V (@SukhiVG) February 24, 2016
Mentor Text Dropbox is a site where you can find and contribute…mentor texts.
Tools to Help Writers Explain Good Evidence is from Middleweb. I’m adding it to the same list.
Teach Students to Write Strong Paragraphs is by Sarah Tantillo at Middleweb.
What Does The Trump Campaign Teach Us About The Limitations Of The Common Core Standards?
— Kate Roberts (@teachkate) May 20, 2016
Using computers widens the achievement gap in writing, a federal study finds is from The Hechinger Report. After reading it, you might want to explore what I consider to be the three best tools for teaching keyboarding:
My students like Dance Mat Typing because it teaching typing with text and audio support.
Typing Web is a great site for learners. You have to register for the site and it tracks your progress.
UMaine Professor: Writing Boosts Performance of Maine’s Student-Athletes comes by way of the National Writing Project. In addition to the way I now work with our coaches, this idea might be worth pursuing.
Education Week has published one of their typically excellent special reports, and the title of this one is Next Draft: Changing Practices In Writing Instruction. It’s composed of eight separate articles, including “As Teachers Tackle New Student-Writing Expectations, Support Is Lacking,” “Remodeling the Workshop: Lucy Calkins on Writing Instruction Today,” and “Students in My Math Classes Next Year Will Do a Lot of Writing. Here’s Why.”
— Katie Clements (@clemenkat) June 30, 2016
Here’s an excellent post from the National Writing Project filled with resources for teaching a Writing Workshop model in class.
Low-Stakes Writing: Writing to Learn, Not Learning to Write is from Edutopia.
Getting Strategic About Teaching Revision in Writing is from Ed Week.
The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly is from LifeHacker.
NEW BLOG SERIES: STARTING WITH WHAT MATTERS MOST IN WRITING WORKSHOP is from Two Writing Teachers.
— Larry Ferlazzo (@Larryferlazzo) July 29, 2016
— Alex Corbitt (@Alex_Corbitt) July 26, 2016
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) August 2, 2016
Good use for Trump quotes: Teaching kids how not citing sources makes it sound like you’re just making stuff up. pic.twitter.com/HR3Tog0wrf
— Gregory Michie (@GregoryMichie) August 16, 2016
— Jamie Silverboard (@Ms_Silverboard) August 26, 2016
— Alex Corbitt (@Alex_Corbitt) October 2, 2016
3 Strategies to Fire Up Hesitant Writers is from Edutopia.
— Renee Moore (@TeachMoore) October 17, 2016
— Fran McVeigh (@franmcveigh) November 20, 2016
— Alex Corbitt (@Alex_Corbitt) November 20, 2016
— Marzano Research (@MarzanoResearch) December 20, 2016
How to give writing feedback to students efficiently is by Ray Salazar.
The Writing Journey by Kelly Gallagher.
20 Things for Students to Do with Informational Text is from Julie Conlon. It includes a very nice infographic.
Learning To Learn is an excellent new article at the Harvard Business Review. It highlights four key qualities of an effective learner – aspiration, self-awareness, curiosity, and vulnerability. I’m thinking of dividing the article into four very short sections on each of those qualities and then have students respond to this same prompt for each:
What quality does the writer say is important in order to be an effective learner, and what is her justification? To what extent do you agree or disagree with what she believes? Write an essay responding to these questions; to develop your essay, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observation of others, or any of your reading — including “Learning To Learn” itself.
Teaching writing = making a fire. You add firewood, but unless you leave space for air (choice, voice, play, pleasure) the fire won’t burn.
— Ralph Fletcher (@FletcherRalph) May 11, 2017
14 Questions for Examining Mentor Texts (Of Any Kind) is from Gil Teach.
A Year of Picture Prompts: Over 160 Images to Inspire Writing is from The New York Times Learning Network.
— Emily Francis (@emilyfranESL) June 28, 2017
GETTING STARTED WITH MENTOR SENTENCES is from Ideas By Jivey and looks interesting.
MENTOR TEXTS: WRITING WORKSHOP FUNDAMENTALS is by Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski.
Writing Workshop Checklist is from Edutopia.
Tips for Aspiring Op-Ed Writers appeared in The NY Times.
A FRONT THE WRITING DISCUSSION TEMPLATE (AND THE FEEDBACK WE GOT ON IT) is by Doug Lemov.
Teaching Close Reading and Compelling Writing With the ‘New Sentences’ Column is from The New York Times Learning Network.
3 Techniques for Students Who Know What They Want to Say But Not How to Say it is from Moving Writers.
I really like this writing assignment:
This episode of @EdsNotDeadPC https://t.co/EVAOQeusOf with @Ready4rigor really inspired me to take more risks with my sheltered ESOL US History class. Tomorrow, I’m having them write their own personal version of Langston Hughes’ “I, Too” poem. Thanks for the inspiration!!! pic.twitter.com/b4thbZ1HiU
— Andrew Kozlowsky (@MrKoz31) December 8, 2017
Had my #ESOL #ELL #ESL students write their own I,Too poems, a la Langston Hughes. Having high expectations for students is the most powerful classroom practice. Just because they are learning English doesn’t mean they don’t have a story to tell!! Blessed to be able to teach them pic.twitter.com/Qnrah8oy5B
— Andrew Kozlowsky (@MrKoz31) December 10, 2017
A (Writing) Library of Possibility: Structure and Freedom is by Tricia Ebarvia.
— Kelly Gallagher (@KellyGToGo) December 28, 2017
— Ted Palenski (@tedpalenski) January 23, 2018
One Sentence at a Time: The Need for Explicit Instruction in Teaching Students to Write Well is by Judith C. Hochman and Natalie Wexler.
3 Tips for AP Lang Test Prep is by Tricia Ebarvia.
Strategies to help students engage in daily writing practice is from Achieve The Core.
Choose a main character and 9 other ideas for starting a story is from the journalism site Poynter. It’s one of several useful posts in their Help Writers series.
Here’s another piece from Doug Lemov, this time on “formative writing.” He points out how a teacher used this prompt:
“How might Alice Walker’s experiences sharecropping have influenced her writing?”
The use of the word “might” helped students feel more comfortable about writing and less worried about being wrong.
Is It Time To Go Back To Basics With Writing Instruction? is from MindShift.
AT FIRST GLANCE: A SENTENCE STARTER ADDS UNEXPECTED RIGOR TO WRITING is by Doug Lemov.
Micro-Writing for English Learners is the title of my latest article in ASCD’s magazine, Educational Leadership.
Over 1,000 Writing Prompts for Students is from The New York Times Learning Network.
The Action Behind Writing is from The Daily Write.
5-Minute Writing Conferences is from Edutopia.
Fluency in writing comes from self-prompting. We write a sentence and it prompts another–and another. Soon we have a perpetual motion machine. Here are a baker’s dozen of prompts that swirl in my head as I write: pic.twitter.com/pnuBEOOWLY
— Tom Newkirk (@Tom_Newkirk) April 15, 2018
Nine Teaching Ideas for Using Music to Inspire Student Writing is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Winners From Our Fifth Annual Student Editorial Contest is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Why Teaching English Through Content Is Critical for ELL Students is from MindShift.
The Warriors usually play very well in the 3rd quarter. Why? Halftime adjustments. https://t.co/jotjR9EXu1. This is a metaphor for young writers. They need mid-process coaching way more than they need comments on “final” drafts.
— Kelly Gallagher (@KellyGToGo) June 3, 2018
Also, you might want to read Why Do the Warriors Dominate the 3rd Quarter? Consider Their Halftime Drill.
FORMATIVE VERSUS SUMMATIVE WRITING PROMPTS-SOME EXAMPLES is from Doug Lemov.
— Kisha (@Kishahowell3) June 18, 2018
Stop Boring Nonfiction Writing. Save the World. is from Angie Miller at Middleweb.
What Students Gain by Writing Together is by Jeremy Hyler, and appears in Middleweb.
Fostering the Writing Identities of Teens in ELA Classrooms is from The National Writing Project.
Welcome to the NWP Knowledge Base is also from The National Writing Project.
What The Research Says: The 13 Most Effective Ways To Improve Children’s Writing. is from Literacy For Pleasure.
Feedback That Saves Time, Improves Writing is by Sarah Tantillo at Middleweb.
Paragraphs: Give Us a Break! is from Teach Write.
‘Not All Feedback Is Created Equal’ is a four-part series in my Education Week Teacher column.
Strategies for Teaching Argument Writing appears in Edutopia.
Writing is one of the most challenging skills to master. @michelleshory and I created this resource for all educators of ELLs.
Thank you @Larryferlazzo @MsSalvac @RWTnow @cultofpedagogy @NewYorkTimesGHS @regieroutman @ReadingRockets
for your expertise!https://t.co/pz83Kvm7cX pic.twitter.com/rIE5wgpS3t
— Irina McGrath (@irina_mcgrath) January 15, 2019
“BECAUSE, BUT, SO” GOES 2.0 WITH DIRECT QUOTATIONS is from Doug Lemov.
Teaching Great Writing One Sentence at a Time is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Feel free to offer links to your best posts (or pieces that others have written) on teaching writing….
Debra Hanson has given me permission to share this excellent Anchor Chart/Infographic on “Expanding Sentences.” She explains how she uses it in class here:
Over 140 Picture Prompts to Inspire Student Writing is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Teaching the Research Process Through Podcasting is from Edutopia.
How Not to Go Crazy Reading Rough Drafts is by Sarah Cooper at Middleweb.
The Power of Short Writing Assignments comes via Edutopia.
Quick activity that will have students seeing immediate improvement in their writing: They choose a paragraph from an essay they previously wrote and have them rewrite it leaving out all “to be” verbs.
— Matthew Ryan (@MatRyanELATeach) October 7, 2019
People may remember the great This I Believe broadcasts on NPR a few years ago (that are still available on their site). Many of us have used them in class. Lots of educators probably know this already, but it was new to me – there is a huge separate This I Believe website with zillions of essays and related curriculum for all age groups! And if you can’t get enough teaching ideas from there, check out the You’ll Love the “This I Believe” Writing Project from Spark Creativity.
The Whistle-Blower Knows How to Write. is from The NY Times.
A while back, a teacher pal told me one of her students said, “Real authors don’t plan.”
So I sent her pics of my outlines & story maps.
Because authors DO plan – in so many ways & at all different stages of the writing process.
— Kate Messner (@KateMessner) December 21, 2019
Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively offers good advice and student hand-outs.
This is a useful analogy for thinking about “analysis” when writing about history. I’m trying to think of a non-sports analogy that would hold – maybe an Instagram pic and the captain? But I don’t think that holds. https://t.co/Re21rroy9W
— Jennifer Binis (@JennBinis) January 10, 2020
The NY Times Learning Network has unveiled an argumentative writing unit.
I noticed the frustration some teachers were having when it came to #writing and #ELLs 📒Using “#GrowingLanguageandLiteracy” by @AndreaHonigsfel , I created a checklist that can help T identify goals by proficiency level. https://t.co/mBxg0fpnLL
— Claribel (@claribel716) February 22, 2020
3 Ways to Make Your Writing Clearer is from The Harvard Business Review.
Our 2020-21 Writing Curriculum for Middle and High School is from The NY Times Learning Network.
Sentences That Matter, Mentor and Motivate is from The NY Times Learning Network.
The Anatomy of an Effective and Efficient Piece of Feedback is from Matthew M. Johnson.
HOW TO TEACH WRITING TO ANYONE is from The Learning Agency, and shares summaries of several useful studies.
On Positive and Negative Feedback to Student Writing is by P.L. Thomas.
I like this from the Quote Investigator: It Isn’t Enough To Write So You Will Be Understood. You Have To Write So You Can’t Be Misunderstood.
How to Teach Writing Fluency is by Timothy Shanahan.
Putting Personality on Paper: Our New Profile Contest is from The NY Times Learning Network, and has a lot of supporting resources.
Feedback on writing is such an important part of effective teaching and mentoring
Here’s my approach:
1. Identify a problem
(eg, this isn’t clear)
2. Explain why it’s a problem
(eg, the reader might think you mean…)
3. Offer possible solutions
(eg, instead you might say…) 1/ https://t.co/vHpO1LQYda
— Jess Calarco (@JessicaCalarco) May 21, 2022