The Science of Writing: Where to Begin

So much has been researched and written on the topic of research-based strategies for reading, but writing is an area where there has not been a lot of research.There are many methods, strategies, and practices that are useful and several books have been written on the topic.  If you are looking for a place to start, I recommend picking up The Writing Revolution (Hochman and Wexler) and Writing Matters (Van Cleave) for assistance in best practices and strategies.

I know that writing is an area that was my weakest when I first started teaching 14 years ago. My first year of teaching, I dug deep into our curriculum and realized there was not a lot of information provided on how to teach the writing structures for each writing genre. Thankfully, my district provided teachers with writing rubrics. Those were SO helpful as I at least had a goal so I knew where my students were expected to be by the end of the school year.

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If you are struggling to teach writing, I recommend checking out your school district’s rubrics if they provide them.  Below is a list of ideas that will help you get started rocking your writing instruction.

Start by reviewing the CCSS for your grade level and backwards planning from the end of year expectations.

For those of you looking for some help, here are just a few drops of information along with scaffolds and strategies to use with struggling writers.

1. First identify the writing skills along with the structure for the genre of writing your student/child needs support with. These could be two different things (i.e. capitalization, punctuation, etc. vs. introduction, details, and conclusion). These skills will need to be explicitly taught using a variety of strategies.
2. If your student/child cannot say the sentence, they will likely struggle to write the sentence. I always start off the year with having students say their sentence to myself or a partner. They LOVE sharing their ideas and it gets them very engaged in the learning.
3. Scaffold the writing process by teaching little parts at a time and do not move on with the next step until they have reached mastery.
4. Use a graphic organizer to help students plan and organize their thoughts and ideas.
5. Provide thoughtful feedback through questioning strategies to help guide students/children through the process.
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Writing is a BIG process with many parts. It takes time to create competent writers so be patient and trust the process.