Simplify Your Writing Instruction: A Framework For A Student-Centered Writing Block

Simplify Your Writing Instruction: A Framework For A Student-Centered Writing Block

by April Smith
Simplify Your Writing Instruction: A Framework For A Student-Centered Writing Block

Simplify Your Writing Instruction: A Framework For A Student-Centered Writing Block

by April Smith


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Set up your writing block quickly and easily with a simple, research-based framework

Schools need their writing instruction simplified. Most classrooms share writing time with another subject, making it difficult for students to receive the direct writing instruction they need. Between the lack of time, increased gaps in writing skills, and inconsistent writing curriculum, teachers are struggling to bring their students up to grade level.

Simplify Your Writing Instruction provides you with a classroom-tested framework that helps you set up your writing block within the limited time and resources you have. Step by step, this practical guide shows you how to amplify your students’ writing skills, employ simple feedback opportunities and interventions, streamline your lessons, use simple differentiation techniques to help reach students of all ability levels, and more.

Author April Smith is a former teacher who has trained more than 50,000 K-12 educators on best practices for writing instruction. While in the classroom, she learned that having simple and consistent systems in place is critical. Accordingly, none of the tasks and strategies will require you to create or prep anything complicated or time-consuming. In Simplify Your Writing Instruction, you will find easy-to-use checklists, implementation tasks, customizable templates, student writing samples, helpful tables and charts, and a simple spreadsheet that you can use to plan your lessons and modify your teaching to meet the needs of each writer.

Be confident and supported in your writing instruction. Simplify Your Writing Instruction will teach you how to:

  • Implement the Simple Pre-Assessment Process in your classroom
  • Encourage authentic writing practice at home
  • Differentiate your lessons to reach your Special Education, ELL, and Gifted students
  • Integrate grammar naturally and optimize student output after each lesson
  • Split the writing process into efficient and effective 10- to 15-minute mini-lessons
  • Make writing a priority by incorporating writing application into other subjects
  • Use a simple pre-assessment to get a better overall picture of what your students can do
  • Utilize more complex strategies such as small group work and conferring

Packed with expert advice and easy-to-follow strategies, Simplify Your Writing Instruction: A Framework for a Better Writing Block is a must-have resource for all K-12 educators and teachers in training.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781394171576
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 10/31/2023
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 194,688
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

APRIL SMITH began teaching in a rural school in 2008. Today, she works as an instructional coach and curriculum designer, dedicated to empowering educators with the resources they need to better support their students. April has trained over 50,000 teachers, working closely with school leaders across the country.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part One The Fundamentals 1

One Common Struggles 3

Time 5

Varying Student Ability Levels 6

Lack of Training and Curriculum 6

Addressing These Struggles 7

Two What Really Matters 9

Having Simple Systems in Place 11

Utilizing Data 11

Uncomplicated “Bite-Sized” Lessons 11

Filling in Gaps Using Differentiation 12

Providing Feedback and Support 12

Three Make Writing a Priority 13

My Story 15

What I Learned 15

What This Means for You 16

Part Two The First Three Weeks 19

Four The Power of Informal Pre-Assessment 23

Why Pre-Assess at All If Time Is an Issue? 25

What Pre-Assessment Should Look Like 25

The Purpose behind Using Multiple Prompts 27

Five Make Observations and Record Important Data 31

What Is Actionable Data? 33

The Recording Process 34

Recording Important Whole Group Skills 35

“Big Picture” Skills: Interest and Writing Stamina 36

Sentence and Paragraph Writing 37

Complexity of Ideas 38

Technology Knowledge 39

Other Whole Group Categories 40

What This Means for My Whole Group Instruction 40

Whole Group Grammar Knock-Out List 41

The Order Matters 41

Recording Individual Skills 42

Setting Goals and Recording Success 43

Six Build a Foundation 47

Interest and Attitude 51

Addressing Your Own Writing Baggage 51

Cultivating a Positive Classroom Environment 53

Writing Stamina 54

Days 3–5: Practice, Practice, Practice 56

Sentence and Paragraph Writing 56

Paragraph Writing Intervention 60

Idea Generation 63

Final Thoughts 66

Seven Use Pre-Assessment Data to Modify Future Lessons 69

Modify Expectations 71

Frontload or Reteach 71

Use Tools 72

Banishing Feelings of Being Overwhelmed 72

Part Three A Simple Framework for Your Writing Instruction 73

Eight Prepare Your Classroom 77

Writing Block Schedule 79

Whole Group Mini-Lesson 79

Independent Student Writing Time 79

Closure 79

Meeting Place and Student Work Areas 80

Classroom Procedures 81

Nine Start Your First Writing Unit with Efficient Mini-Lessons 85

Planning Mini-Lessons 87

The Importance of “Bite-Sized” Mini-Lessons 87

Bird’s-Eye View Planning 88

Daily Planning 89

Unit: Personal Narrative Writing – Day 3 EXAMPLE LESSON PLAN 90

The Secret Sauce: A Well-Planned Teacher Model 92

Implementing Mini-Lessons 93

Independent Writing Time 95

Transitioning from Mini-Lesson to Independent Writing Time 96

Reinforcing Skills during Independent Writing Time 97

Ten Prepare for Early Finishers and Students Who Are Stuck 101

Resources for Students Who Are Stuck 104

Students Falling Behind 109

Eleven Incorporate Grammar 111

Choosing Which Grammar Concepts to Teach 113

Incorporating Grammar Skills into a Lesson 114

Utilizing Direct Grammar Instruction 117

What Direct Grammar Instruction Looks Like 120

Ways to Apply Newly Acquired Grammar Skills in Context 123

What to Do If Students Still Don’t Get It 124

Other Ways to Fit in Grammar Practice 124

Part Four Meeting Individual Needs 129

Twelve Support Students through Small Group Instruction 133

Planning Small Group Instruction 135

Setting Goals and Recording Growth 143

Thirteen Provide Individualized Feedback through Writing Conferences 149

A Process that Works 151

Fourteen Integrate Peer Feedback Systems 161

Opportunities for Peer Feedback 164

Teaching Students How to Conduct Peer Feedback Sessions 165

Fifteen Support Students with Learning Disabilities 171

How Learning Disabilities Affect Writing Ability 173

Sixteen Support English Language Learners 177

Sentence Frames 180

Vocabulary Tools 181

Seventeen Grade with a Student-Centered Approach 183

Mastery-Based Grading 185

Standards-Based Grading 186

Grading Tools 187

Scoring with Rubrics 187

Appendix: Reproducible Pages 191

About the Author 215

Acknowledgments 217

How to Access the Downloadable Resources 219

Works Cited 221

Index 223

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