In February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016:


This week, two new useful resources on teaching writing became available, and I learned about one that had been around before – but I just didn’t know it…

The first new piece is an excellent article titled This Is How To Improve Your Writing: 7 Easy Expert Secrets from Barking Up The Wrong Tree. It’s very accessible, and I think would be great to have students read and respond to it – either all at once or in sections over a series of days.

The old piece is Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers from the Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse. It’s a “practice guide” based on multiple research studies that have passed muster by the What Works staff.

The new piece is brand new – as in yesterday – an accompanying guide for secondary students: Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively.

I did a quick review it and, though I don’t think many teachers are going to find anything particularly new in it, it’s always good to find research support for the practices that many effective writing teachers use, and I count myself in that category.

Here are some of the practices in the guide that stood out to me, along with links to posts, articles and resources I’ve shared on this blog related to each one and how I apply it in my classroom (you can find many more links at The Best Posts On Writing Instruction):

* Using K-W-L Charts as a pre-planning practice for writing (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of Prior Knowledge (& How To Activate It) )

* Other graphic organizers (specifically Venn Diagrams) – see Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Mindmapping, Flow Chart Tools, & Graphic Organizers and you might be particularly interested in my New York Times post on a lesson where students Study the 9/11 terrorist attacks through a K-W-L chart and Venn Diagrams that lead to writing a compare and contrast essay.

* Strategies to dissect writing prompts (see Helping Students Respond To Writing Prompts).

* Peer editing (see the excerpt from our book Edutopia titled Peer Review, Common Core, and ELLs).

* Helping students understand “rising action/climax/falling action” (I primarily teach that when writing stories – see The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story).

* Writing blog comments (see The Best Sources For Advice On Student Blogging).

* Mimic Writing (see The Value Of “Mimic Writing”).

* The guide also discussed the importance of mentor texts/exemplars, along with the strategy of having students color-code different parts of an essay, both which I use.

* It talks a lot of various cute writing mnemonics.  I use a lot of them (see Here’s An Example Of How I Scaffold A Short Writing Prompt “They Say, I Say” Is A Great Writing Resource and Exploratree).  However – and this is not very clear to me – I think they might consider those more writing “formulas” and they might, instead, be talking about using them for more metacognitive planning (like what I write about in A Pretty Darn Good Lesson — If I Say So Myself and Another Lesson Combining Metacognition, Writing, Speaking, & Listening) .  I’ll send that question off to them to see what they have to say about it.

* It talks a lot about using rubrics, which I have mixed feelings about (see The Best Rubric Sites (And A Beginning Discussion About Their Use) ).

*And, to my surprise and disappointment, I think it gives short shrift to the importance of formative assessment (see The Best Resources For Learning About Formative Assessment).

* It is nice that they give a shout-out to the National Writing Project!

There’s a whole lot more there – check out the guide and feel free to leave comments here about it and/or my comments.