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!
Daily Writing Routine
You have to set up a regular routine for writing if you want your students to write often and write well. A huge part of it 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.
You need a daily writing routine.
To learn more about how to establish a writing routine and writing community in your class,check out these blog posts.
- 5 Timesaving Strategies to Teach Writing
Mentor Text Routine
Discover the benefits of using mentor texts to get your students writing with depth and clarity and expression. Find out why it’s a best practice to use mentor texts to teach writing, grammar, and reading, but in this case, especially for writing. 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 rigor is there, but it’s also simple enough that the students can do it independently after they’ve practiced it.
The Building Strong Writers mini-course provides you with everything you need to get started with mentor texts.
Set Up Simple Writing Systems
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 will save you so much time grading, editing, and responding to students. It’s a daily routine that you use when your students are doing routine practice writing, or when they’re writing a first draft.
With this two-color system, you get to have mini-conferences with your students as you observe over their shoulder. I’m telling you, the students love this. They get individual attention from the teacher and they get specific advice. 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.
- You can also learn it in more detail in this course: Building Strong Writers with Simple Systems.
Teach Writing Across the Curriculum
Students may wonder why writing is important in math or science or even social studies. Good thinking skills are honed through writing.
Writing isn’t just for writing time. Students who respond to reading across the curriculum in writing, naturally become better writers. They also gain more practice across the different genres of writing. This next post includes advice from writing teachers for high school, middle school, and elementary school.
The Teachers’ Easy Guide from The Problem Solving Teacher will make it easy to teach poetry writing in your class.
Assign 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 time deciding on a plot idea or a story arc. I always used to tell my students we have too much to learn and not enough time. I would give one prompt to the class each week. Some students could 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 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.
Guess what? Every paper turned in will be different. Even though the prompt is the same, each individual student has their own reaction, reflection, and response to the writing prompt. It doesn’t hurt creativity one iota.
In Building Strong Writers with Simple Systems, I go into more detail about the how and why of only using one prompt per week.
This next blog post by The Problem Solving Teacher will help you get a Writer’s Workshop going. It’s also a timesaver and effective as well.
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, or NewsELA, or any of a multitude of other sites that have reading passages available. It’s so easy to add a writing component to this.
Just keep your graphic organizers for each genre of writing handy, and you can assign anything you want. 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.
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!