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30 Ideas for Teaching Writing

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❶Keep it simple stupid. Students need both the skill and the will to develop as writers.

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How to differentiate writing activities:


Erin Pirnot Ciccone, teacher-consultant with the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project , found a way to make more productive the "Monday morning gab fest" she used as a warm-up with her fifth grade students. She conceived of "Headline News. After the headlines had been posted, students had a chance to guess the stories behind them. The writers then told the stories behind their headlines. As each student had only three minutes to talk, they needed to make decisions about what was important and to clarify details as they proceeded.

They began to rely on suspense and "purposeful ambiguity" to hold listeners' interest. On Tuesday, students committed their stories to writing. Because of the "Headline News" experience, Ciccone's students have been able to generate writing that is focused, detailed, and well ordered.

Slagle, high school teacher and teacher-consultant with the Louisville Writing Project Kentucky , understands the difference between writing for a hypothetical purpose and writing to an audience for real purpose. She illustrates the difference by contrasting two assignments.

Write a review of an imaginary production of the play we have just finished studying in class. They must adapt to a voice that is not theirs and pretend to have knowledge they do not have.

Slagle developed a more effective alternative: Authenticity in Writing Prompts. Mark Farrington, college instructor and teacher-consultant with the Northern Virginia Writing Project , believes teaching revision sometimes means practicing techniques of revision.

An exercise like "find a place other than the first sentence where this essay might begin" is valuable because it shows student writers the possibilities that exist in writing. In his college fiction writing class, Farrington asks students to choose a spot in the story where the main character does something that is crucial to the rest of the story. At that moment, Farrington says, they must make the character do the exact opposite.

Bernadette Lambert, teacher-consultant with the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project Georgia , wondered what would happen if she had her sixth-grade students pair with an adult family member to read a book. She asked the students about the kinds of books they wanted to read mysteries, adventure, ghost stories and the adults about the kinds of books they wanted to read with the young people character-building values, multiculturalism, no ghost stories.

Using these suggestions for direction, Lambert developed a list of 30 books. From this list, each student-adult pair chose one.

They committed themselves to read and discuss the book and write separate reviews. Most of the students, says Lambert, were proud to share a piece of writing done by their adult reading buddy. Several admitted that they had never before had this level of intellectual conversation with an adult family member. Suzanne Linebarger, a co-director of the Northern California Writing Project , recognized that one element lacking from many of her students' stories was tension.

One day, in front of the class, she demonstrated tension with a rubber band. Looped over her finger, the rubber band merely dangled. It's the tension, the potential energy, that rivets your attention. It's the same in writing. Linebarger revised a generic writing prompt to add an element of tension. The initial prompt read, "Think of a friend who is special to you.

Write about something your friend has done for you, you have done for your friend, or you have done together. Linebarger didn't want responses that settled for "my best friend was really good to me," so "during the rewrite session we talked about how hard it is to stay friends when met with a challenge.

Students talked about times they had let their friends down or times their friends had let them down, and how they had managed to stay friends in spite of their problems. In other words, we talked about some tense situations that found their way into their writing.

Moving From Fluency to Flair. Ray Skjelbred, middle school teacher at Marin Country Day School, wants his seventh grade students to listen to language. He wants to begin to train their ears by asking them to make lists of wonderful sounding words. They may use their own words, borrow from other contributors, add other words as necessary, and change word forms. Among the words on one student's list: Grammar, Poetry, and Creative Language.

Kathleen O'Shaughnessy, co-director of the National Writing Project of Acadiana Louisiana , asks her middle school students to respond to each others' writing on Post-it Notes. Students attach their comments to a piece of writing under consideration. While I was reading your piece, I felt like I was riding a roller coaster. It started out kinda slow, but you could tell there was something exciting coming up.

But then it moved real fast and stopped all of a sudden. I almost needed to read it again the way you ride a roller coaster over again because it goes too fast.

Says O'Shaughnessy, "This response is certainly more useful to the writer than the usual 'I think you could, like, add some more details, you know? Anna Collins Trest, director of the South Mississippi Writing Project , finds she can lead upper elementary school students to better understand the concept of "reflection" if she anchors the discussion in the concrete and helps students establish categories for their reflective responses. She decided to use mirrors to teach the reflective process.

Each student had one. As the students gazed at their own reflections, she asked this question: Trest talked with students about the categories and invited them to give personal examples of each. Then she asked them to look in the mirrors again, reflect on their images, and write. One of his strategies has been to take his seventh-graders on a "preposition walk" around the school campus.

Walking in pairs, they tell each other what they are doing:. I walk among my students prompting answers," Ireland explains. Kim Stafford, director of the Oregon Writing Project at Lewis and Clark College , wants his students to discard old notions that sentences should be a certain length.

He explains to his students that a writer's command of long and short sentences makes for a "more pliable" writing repertoire. He describes the exercise he uses to help students experiment with sentence length.

Just use 'and' when you have to, or a dash, or make a list, and keep it going. Stafford compares the first style of sentence construction to a river and the second to a drum. Joni Chancer, teacher-consultant of the South Coast Writing Project California , has paid a lot of attention to the type of questions she wants her upper elementary students to consider as they re-examine their writing, reflecting on pieces they may make part of their portfolios.

Here are some of the questions:. Why did I write this piece? Where did I get my ideas? Who is the audience and how did it affect this piece?

What skills did I work on in this piece? Was this piece easy or difficult to write? What parts did I rework? What were my revisions? Did I try something new? What elements of writer's craft enhanced my story?

Students need to know whether their writing is accurately and appropriately conveying its message. One way students can determine this is by sharing their writing and responding to written and verbal feedback from the teacher and their peers.

Although teachers should provide feedback to students through teacher-student conferences and rubrics, peers also should be encouraged to participate in the feedback process. Students also need to be taught strategies and appropriate language for written feedback. We will incorporate more writing into our classrooms by have students write about composers, artists, atheletes, and summaries of books read.

Some very useful strategies for young learner. That said, the article continually expands further with some excellent choices: There is a stress on time development daily and over time to develop writing confidence and excellence. Thanks for the sharing, I also found a useful service for forms filling.

It looked much better typed than hand-written. I think that writing is the best tool for children to express every feeling and emotion.

This way we are able to understand them and guide them towards more knowledge. Author Interviews Meet your favorite authors and illustrators in our video interviews.

Book Finder Create your own booklists from our library of 5, books! Themed Booklists Dozens of carefully selected booklists, for kids years old. Nonfiction for Kids Tips on finding great books, reading nonfiction and more.

Skip to main content. You are here Home. Provide daily time for students to write Level of evidence: Minimal Providing adequate time for students to write is one essential element of an effective writing instruction program.

How to carry out the recommendation The panel recommends a minimum of one hour a day devoted to writing for students, beginning in 1st grade For students in kindergarten, at least 30 minutes each day should be devoted to writing and developing writing skills.

Teach students to use the writing process for a variety of purposes Level of evidence: Strong Writing well involves more than simply documenting ideas as they come to mind. Teach students the writing process 1.

Teach students strategies for the various components of the writing process Students need to acquire specific strategies for each component of the writing process. Gradually release writing responsibility from the teacher to the student Writing strategies should be taught explicitly and directly through a gradual release of responsibility from teacher to student.

Guide students to select and use appropriate writing strategies. Encourage students to be flexible in using components of the writing process Writing requires flexibility and change.

Teach students to write for a variety of purposes: Teach students to become fluent with handwriting, spelling, sentence construction, typing and word processing Level of evidence: Moderate When basic writing skills become relatively effortless for students, they can focus less on these basic writing skills and more on developing and communicating their ideas.

How to carry out the recommendation 1. Teach very young writers how to hold a pencil correctly and form letters Early writing instruction should begin with demonstrations of how to hold a pencil comfortably between the thumb and forefinger, resting on the middle finger.

Teach students to spell words correctly A relatively small number of words account for 80 percent of the words elementary- grade students use in their writing.

Teach students to construct sentences for fluency, meaning and style Students should learn to write strong sentences that convey their intended meaning and engage readers. Create an engaged community of writers Level of evidence: Minimal Students need both the skill and the will to develop as writers.

Teachers should participate by writing and sharing their writing Teachers should model how the ability to write affects their daily lives, demonstrate the importance of writing to communicate, model the perseverance required to create a good piece of writing, and express the satisfaction that can come from creating a meaningful text. Give students writing choices Teachers should provide opportunities for student choice in writing assignments — for example, choice in selecting writing topics or the freedom to modify a teacher-selected prompt.

Encourage students to collaborate as writers Teachers can encourage students to collaborate throughout the writing process by brainstorming ideas about a topic, responding to drafts in a writing group, or helping peers edit or revise their work.

Provide students with opportunities to give and receive feedback Students need to know whether their writing is accurately and appropriately conveying its message. Department of Education Reprints You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author s.

For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed. Related Topics Curriculum and Instruction. Comments We will incorporate more writing into our classrooms by have students write about composers, artists, atheletes, and summaries of books read.

Very useful find for my teaching. Excellent resources to encourage struggling readers. Add comment Your name. More information about text formats. Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

Lines and paragraphs break automatically. Leave this field blank. All Kinds of Readers: Teaching Plot Structure with Picture Books.

Use picture books to teach young writers how to organize plot logically. This article includes examples of basic plot structures, along with picture books that use those structures. An Introduction to Letter Writing. This article from My Child Magazine, featured on Reading Rockets, offers samples of different styles of letters from thank-you notes to letters to Santa and style guidelines that children can follow.

This site lets you create your own handouts of words that students can practice writing. The paper is lined and the word is outlined in small dot print. Good for ELL students developing initial literacy skills.

ReadWriteThink offers a variety of fun, interactive writing activities, including the Comic Creator. Students can fill in comics with their own words and storylines. A poetry site designed to assist instruction of ESL students in poetry and other creative writing forms.

The site has links and detailed information on poetry such as Cinquain, Diamante, Haiku and Limericks. It also has further information on other types of creative writing and tips for instruction.

Language Arts Graphic Organizers. These graphic organizers can be used to prepare for a five-paragraph essay, organize sentences in a paragraph, map concepts and events, compare topics with a Venn Diagram, organize notes for a presentation, create a double-entry journal, and much more. With generous support provided by the National Education Association. Thanks for sharing useful ideas out of your personal experience. I really enjoyed reading the sentence auction activity and would share it with a friend who is teaching English at some local school; I am sure her students will benefit a great deal with this writing technique.

I enjoyed your personal experience and it is very helpful. Way to be creative and go the extra mile for ESL students. I also love the poem. Great idea and allows for the students to comfortably use their creative side. Sharing your experience in helping learners improve writing skills seems informative and useful. I do enjoy your personal experience in teaching or training experience. These ideas have raised my teaching up after trying out for a long time with boring traditional ways and sometimes I lost my patience when facing students' works.

ELLs and the Joy of Writing. On this page How to differentiate writing activities: How to differentiate writing activities: ELL students at Level A copy a sentence or short passage exactly as it is written.

This helps beginning-level students who are not very familiar with the language, but may be able to interpret some of the information as they copy it. Level B students receive a paragraph or two that has blank spaces in the text. The students write the word or phrase that completes the sentence. This allows the student to write an amount that is not overwhelming and helps them comprehend the information. Level C students write on their own, but perhaps they receive paragraph prompts or are allowed to look in a book, but must put the idea in their own words.

After some practice with this system and getting to know your students' English language skills, you will be able to create a system that works best for your class. Language Experience Approach The Language Experience Approach draws on instructional techniques used with younger children who have not yet developed literacy skills. Experience something — for example, the students have listened to the story, "The Little Red Hen" and then acted it out. The teacher stands by the board or a large sheet of paper and says to the students, "Tell me the story of the Little Red Hen.

For example, a student might say, "The Little Red Hen work so hard and nobody want help her. Then the teacher tells the students, "Let's read the story together and listen to see if the story makes sense and if there is anything we want to change.

For example, one student may raise her hand and say, "I think it should say, "worked" not "work. If the suggested change is correct, the teacher offers praise and moves on to the next suggestion. If the suggested change is not correct, the teacher should help the student analyze the suggested change. We can say "She worked so hard.

As a final activity, students are instructed to take the story home and read it to three people and bring it back with signatures. Sentence Auction This activity helps students analyze common writing errors through a personalized activity since they are trying to buy their own sentences. The teacher reads out the sentence confidently exactly as it is written. Some sentences will not sell because students will know they are "bad. After all the sentences have been sold, the teacher goes through the list and the students say whether the sentence was good or bad.

If they agree that it was a bad sentence, then the teacher asks them to explain how they can make it a "good" sentence. Finally the students can count how many "good" sentences they have since they may have bought some bad ones and a winner is declared.


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Teach students the writing process 1. Teach students strategies for the various components of the writing process. Students need to acquire specific strategies for each component of the writing process. Students should learn basic strategies, such as POW (Pick ideas, Organize their notes, Write and say more), in 1st or 2nd grade.

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Grades K – 12 | Student Interactive. Acrostic Poems. This online tool enables students to learn about and write acrostic poems. Elements of the writing process are also included. Student Models. When you need an example written by a student, check out our vast collection of free student models. Scroll through the list, or search for a mode of writing such as “explanatory” or “persuasive.”.

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The curriculum teaches % of the writing and grammar Common Cores, and other state standards, with writing instruction that spirals across all grade levels. Practice makes perfect. Students build critical writing skills from instructional modeling and daily writing practice. 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing. Summary: Few sources available today offer writing teachers such succinct, practice-based help—which is one reason why 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing was the winner of the Association of Education Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award for Instructional Materials.