Writing Lessons

What are the best methods for teaching writing?

Teaching Writing Skills and Processes

Many teachers are intimidated by guiding students through the writing process. I have heard teachers say things like: What strategies should I use when introducing the writing process? How can I help my students improve their writing skills? Are there evidence-based practices for teaching writing? How do I help my students get their thoughts on the page?

For other educators, writing comes naturally. It can be difficult for these teachers to take a step back and think about the cognitive processes that are occuring. When it just makes sense to the educator, it can be challenging for these experienced educators to share insite with other teachers.

Are there ready-made programs out there to help teach writing?

Oh yeah! There are no shortages of resources. In fact, Writing Tips Oasis has shared what they believe to be the top five writing programs:

  1. Write About This

  2. Storybird

  3. Time4Writing

  4. Connections Academy

  5. Essentials in Writing

Personally, however, I have never based my instruction off of just one program. Instead, I incorporated effective writing practices into my curriculum and writing projects in a way that catered to the needs of my students.

Evidence-based practices for teaching writing include:

  1. Planning Strategies

  2. Revising and Editing

  3. Summarizing Texts

  4. Collaborative Writing

  5. Setting Goals

  6. Reflecting

Additionally, students can benefit from explicit teaching on sentence combining, the process of writing, and engagement in inquiry and natural curiosity.

What are some helpful planning strategies to initiate the writing process?

Students can become quite intimidated while staring at that blinking curser on a blank page. Help them launch the writing process through the use of planning strategies.

My favorite strategy for the planning stage of writing is the use of graphic organizers. These forms can be less intimidating than a blank page and allow students to cultivate ideas without fear. The following two graphic organizers can be downloaded for free:

How do you teach students to revise and edit their own writing?

Analyze the Writing of Others

Before asking students to revise and edit their own writing, have them practice analyzing the writing of others.

This will teach them how to identify strengths and weaknesses and recognize opportunities for improvement. Additionally, seeing how others write can be extremely beneficial in helping students improve their own writing.

Make Better Word Choices

One key to successful writing is making great word choices. Teach students to recognize overused words. Help them understand the difference between connotation and denotation. Allow them to experience the power of effective word choices.

The referenced Find & Replace word choice activity works very well!

How does summarizing help students improve their writing skills?

Summarizing can help students learn how to determine which ideas are essential, which details are important, and how to consolidate information.

In this activity, students are asked to research student stress by reading and summarizing various articles on the topic. Students will create a Works Cited page and craft a paragraph using the information they collected and summazined from several sources.

How can collaborating with peers help improve student writing?

Peer Reviewing

Collaborating with others on writing projects helps students understand that writing is for others, not ourselves. We are writing for readers, not writers. Peer evaluations also allow an extra set of eyes to examine our writing. Often we overlook our own mistakes. Download this Essay Peer Review for free and help your students help one another improve their writing.

How does goal setting help students improve their writing?

Goal setting is an important part of all learning, but it can be especially helpful when it comes to student writing. Goal setting allows students to:

  1. Gain Motivation;

  2. Experience Accomplishments;

  3. Reflect on Progress;

  4. Establish Purpose;

  5. Enhance Performance;

  6. Celebrate Improvement.

Help your students react appropriately when they are not able to reach their goals.

The new year affords a unique opportunity for goal setting.

How is reflection an important part of the writing process?


The act of reflection is vital to improving writing skills. Students need to look back over their trek through the writing process. They should think about what went well and what did not. While reflection can be done informally, using this Essay Finishing Checklist can help students do this in a more fomal, more traceable way.

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