A teacher in front of chart paper that says back to school.

Don’t Start Teaching Writing Until You Read These 5 Articles

If you’re like many teachers, you probably want to jump in and start teaching writing from the first day of school. I’m 100% with you on this.

Except for one thing.

Don’t start teaching writing without a plan. 

In order for writing instruction to stick, you need to have a roadmap. If you aren’t using a roadmap, (i.e., curriculum map,) you might be simply driving around aimlessly admiring the scenery. 

Which is a perfectly wonderful thing to do.

When you have the time.

That’s one thing that teachers will never have enough of – time. We have THIS MUCH TO TEACH

(imagine me standing in front of the class with my hands spread wide,)

and only this much time.

(Now imagine me holding my finger and thumb together and squeezing.)

So to squeeze as much impact into your writing lessons as you can, I’ve teamed up with four other fabulous writing teachers to share some tips for high school, middle school, and elementary school writing.

Here we go!

A teacher in front of chart paper that says back to school.

Outstanding First Day Of School Activity for High School Students

Missy, from A Better Way to Teach, has some advice if you Want an Outstanding First Day of School Activity for Your High School Students. What I love about this post is Missy begins by telling us about her WORST first day lesson. Oh my goodness, what teacher among us hasn’t made the same mistake she did when we were newbies? 

My biggest takeaway from this post is that just as we “show don’t tell” in our writing, we want to “show don’t tell” our classroom teaching of expectations and first day activities. Let the students be active in words and choice of how to present their writing compositions. But one important piece of advice is whether or not the first day writing should be graded. If you grade the writing, what criteria will you use? If you don’t grade it what will you do with it instead?

Classroom table with books, calculator, and pens.

Even better is that Missy provides us with the lesson plan for this first day of school writing activity with worksheets and tips. The activity gives you a snapshot of your students’ writing abilities and lets them have fun at the same time. 

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4 Tried and True Back to School Activities

Back to school ideas are everywhere online if you teach elementary school. But what about middle school and high school? They’re slightly harder to find. But I’ve got your back friend. Or rather, Kristin of The Integrated Teacher does. She shares 4 Tried and True Back to School Activities for High School and Middle School to ensure your students are ready to learn and you’re ready to start teaching writing.

What high school or middle school student isn’t infatuated with social media? 

I know, right? 

So if you could integrate a social media type of first day activity into your teaching would you do it? 

I know, right? 

I love this idea so much! Kristin goes into detail about her teaching plan, My First Day of School in Social Media.

Young woman on a tablet doing a social media writing activity.

But this is only her first idea of four fun and fabulous back to school activities. Check out Kristin’s post to get your high school or middle school students ready to get social with their writing!

[click_to_tweet tweet=”High school and middle school students can use social media types of activities to begin writing on the first day of school.” quote=”High school and middle school students can use social media types of activities to begin writing on the first day of school.” theme=”style3″]

Engage Students Using a Reading Survey

I’ve decided that Joy from Joy’s Classroom Studio is one of my kindred spirits. She uses surveys to engage students on the first day. The surveys then inform her teaching. 

I love first day surveys. I kept them all year, and I would pull them out when I had reading assessment meetings with students. We’d go over their answers and see if anything had changed in the time since they first took the survey. 

In this post 3 Powerful Ways to Engage Student in Reading Using a Survey, Joy talks about the benefits you, the teacher, will gain by getting this glimpse into your students’ attitudes, likes, and dislikes. It means so much to a student if they know their teacher took the time to read the survey and learn more about them. It means even more when the teacher gives them learning targets based on their likes and dislikes. It gives students a voice in both reading and creative writing.

engage students with a reading survey, Fantasy picture of books flying through a green arbor.

Joy recommends giving the surveys more than once during the year. Best of all, she has a reading survey ready for you to use with Kindergarten through Third Grade, and it’s differentiated for different levels within those grades! That’s pretty awesome in my book.

Benefits of Teaching Poetry

I love to teach poetry. But many times students aren’t as eager to learn it. But if you know how to make teaching poetry fun, your students will learn to love it. I always used to introduce a poetry unit in upper elementary with the book by Sharon Creech, Love That Dog. If you haven’t read it, it’s about a boy who hates poetry, but his teacher is forcing him to write it. The book is written in diary form, but each day’s entry is in poetry. By the end of the book, my students couldn’t wait to get started on their own poetic pieces.

A manual typewriter with the words 5 incredible benefits of teaching poetry.

I love this post by Kirsten of The Problem Solving Teacher so much because she goes into depth about 5 Incredible Benefits of Teaching Poetry in Writing. It’s such a fantastic way to get students to slow down, take note, and write mindfully. 


Start Teaching Writing with Scaffolds

But what about your students who need extra support in writing? Perhaps they’re learning English, or perhaps they have some learning differences. They’re going to need some scaffolding until they can master the writing strategy or process you’re teaching. In fact, using scaffolds during the first days of school with your entire class can help you determine exactly what level your students are at when it comes to writing. These 7 Best Scaffolds for Writing Assignments can be used with your entire class and then taken away later. My favorite is the use of mentor sentences, which can be used all the way from lower elementary through high school. In fact, in my writing programs as an adult, my professors used mentor texts and mentor sentences. Model the masters, my friend.

A banner reads 7 best scaffolds for writing assignments over an image of a worker on a scaffold next to a high rise building.
Seven best scaffolds for writing assignments.


I hope this roundup of post about teaching writing and back to school activities has been helpful.





P.S. As always, don’t forget to check out my video course

Plan Your Year Like a Boss in 5 Days or Less

It’s free and you’ll save so much time planning during the school year if you do it upfront. You can sign up below!

Remember, every teacher deserves the weekend to relax.