If you have no time to teach writing, this post will share 7 ways to fit it into a normal classroom schedule.

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If you don’t think you have time to teach writing, think again. With these seven strategies, you can find time in your crowded schedule for your students to write every day.

This article points you to writing routines, including mentor text routines. 

It includes simple systems to teach writing, including a two-color writing system to teach writing basics and a self-editing system. 

There are plenty more ideas, so scroll down to find the ones you’re most interested in!

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Have a Daily Writing Routine

If you want your students to write often and write well one of the first things to do is set up a regular time and place for it to happen. A huge part of any practice boils down to cues and habits. There’s been a great deal of research done that supports the use of a cue, routine, and reward. They may use different wording, but the result is the same.

Your students need a daily writing routine, just as the sports players need daily practice routines, musicians need daily practice, and your budding artists practice every day.

To learn more about how to establish a writing routine and writing community in your class, you may these blog posts helpful.

Mentor Text Routine

Your students will be writing with depth and clarity and expression once they’ve been introduced to mentor texts routines. Find out why it’s a best practice to use mentor texts to teach writing, grammar, and reading. Reading books and texts with masterful writing will guide your students to what they can achieve.  Learn how to find your own mentor texts to use for whatever genre you’re teaching. Build a solid mentor text routine in your classroom. The routine is rigorous, but at the same time it’s simple enough that students can do it independently once they’ve practiced it.

The Building Strong Writers mini-course provides you with everything you need to get started with mentor texts.

Building Strong Writers with Mentor Texts Mini Course on a multi colored background and a smiling woman's face.
This mini course will have you up and running with mentor texts in your classroom the very first week.

Set Up Simple Systems for Writing

These step by step simple systems show you how to begin teaching writing in the elementary grades even if you’ve never done it before.

One of the systems in this post is a two-color teacher annotation system.

This simple system saves you so much time grading, editing, and responding to students. It’s a daily routine you use when your students are doing routine practice writing, or when they’re writing a first draft.

With this two-color system, you can have mini-conferences with your students as you observe them over their shoulders. The students in my classes loves this. It’s because they’re get individual attention from the teacher and specific advice to make their writing shine. The next time you visit, they’re usually excited to show you how they’ve improved.

Teach Students to Self-Edit, Even in the Elementary Grades

Students as young as second grade can self-edit. It takes practice, but once they become aware of their own writing, and how to correct it, they become independent editors. You can use any type of editing system you want. I used CUPS because it was well suited to my 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students. 

By teaching them how to home in on one part of the CUPS process for one minute at a time, they can edit a one page paper in 5 minutes or less. This blog post introduces it.


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Get your free ebook with tips you can use today.

Teach Writing Across the Curriculum

Students may wonder why writing is important in math or science or even social studies. Clear and specific thinking skills are honed through writing.

Writing isn’t just for language arts time. Students who respond in writing across the curriculum, naturally become better writers. They can write about their math algorithms, their predictions and results of science experiments, their observations of a piece of fine art. This allows them to gain more practice across the different genres of writing. These posts include advice from writing teachers for high school, middle school, and elementary school.

Assign Only One Writing Prompt Per Week

Common advice to writing teachers is to have students keep a notebook of writing ideas. I agree with this idea sometimes. When you want your students to provide you with a piece of creative writing, and you have plenty of time for them to work on it, go for it.

However, all too often in today’s classroom, there isn’t enough time to let students spend an inordinate amount of the class period deciding on a plot idea or a story arc. Students have too much to learn and not enough time to do it. Consider giving one prompt to the class each week. Some students will be able to write an entire story based on that prompt. Other students might only make it through a few paragraphs. 

But by assigning one prompt to the class, you’ll spend less time brainstorming during your writing workshop meetings, less time helping students who might be stuck, less time grading, and more time enjoying those individual conferences.

Some teachers disagree with this method, because they feel that students need more originality in their work. Guess what? Every paper turned in using one prompt will be different. Even though the prompt is the same, each individual student has their own reaction, reflection, and perspective of the writing prompt. It doesn’t hurt creativity one iota.

If you don’t want to scramble around finding engaging writing prompts, I have several posts here to help you.



Use Prepared Resources for Responding to Text in Writing

Another shortcut that will save you time teaching writing in class is to use a no-prep resource. It might be on a website such as ReadWriteThink, IXL, or ReadWorks, or any of a multitude of other sites that have reading passages available. It’s so easy to add a writing component to this.

Keep a preferred set of graphic organizers for each genre of writing handy, and you can assign anything you want. You’ll find a set of free graphic organizers in the Member Vault on this website.

I also touch on how to set up your use of graphic organizers in my course Building Strong Writers with Simple Systems.

Bonus – Scaffolds for Teaching Writing

Scaffolding is designed to get your students over the uncertainty of tacking a task that seems huge. Scaffolds help support students at an individual level and on a group level, depending on how you use them. This blog post talks about how to use scaffolds, some you can use every day with no extra prep, and when to stop using scaffolds. Check it out here.

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Seven best scaffolds for writing assignments.

So now you have a baker’s dozen of articles to read and two courses to check out about how to fit teaching into your daily writing routine!