Establishing routinesA major step in implementing strong writing instruction is establishing routines for (a) daily writing instruction, (b) covering the whole writing curriculum, and (c) examining the valued qualities of good writing. A typical writing lesson will haveat least four parts:
Mini-lesson (15 minutes)Teacher-directed lesson on writing skills, composition strategies, and crafting elements (e.g., writing quality traits, character development, dialogue, leads for exposition, literary devices), which are demonstrated and practiced through direct modeling of teacher's writing or others' work (e.g., shared writing, literature, student papers); initially, mini-lessons will need to focus on establishing routines and expectations;
Check-in (5 minutes)Students indicate where they are in the writing process (i.e., planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing). The teacher asks students to identify how they plan to use what was taught during the mini-lesson in their writing activities for that day;
Independent Writing and Conferring (30 minutes)Students are expected to be writing or revising/editing, consulting with a peer, and/or conferencing with the teacher during this time;
Sharing (10 minutes)Students identify how they used what was taught during the mini-lesson in their own writing and what challenges arose. The teacher may discuss impressions from conferring with students; students share their writing (it does not have to be a complete paper and may, in fact, only be initial ideas for writing) with the group or a partner, while others provide praise and constructive feedback. Students discuss next steps in the writing assignment; and
Publishing Celebration (occasionally)Students need a variety of outlets for their writing to make it purposeful and enjoyable, such as a class anthology of stories or poems, a grade-level newspaper or school magazine, a public reading in or out of school, a Web site for student writing, a pen pal, the library, and dramatizations.
Several tools can help the teacher maintain the integrity of this lesson structure. Examples of these tools follow. Writing Notebook. First, each student should have a writing notebook for (a) recording "seed" ideas for writing, such as memories, wishes, observations, quotations, questions, illustrations, and artifacts [e.g., a letter or recipe]; (b) performing planning activities; (c) drafting writing pieces; and (d) logging writing activities and reflections [see Fletcher, 1996].
Writing Folders. Second, writing folder in which students keep their papers should be in boxes that are labeled for different phases of the writing process. These folder will help organize different versions of a piece of writing students generate, as well as the various projects students work on at a given time.
Visual Display. Third, some means for visually displaying check-in status will help students and teacher monitor individual and class progress in writing. Each student might, for example, put a card in the appropriate slot of a class pocket chart labled with the stages of the writing process. Or, the student might display the cube that represents the different writing stages (the sixth side might simply be labled "help" and would be used when teacher assistance is required).
Personal Journal. Fourth, a personal journal (that may or may not be shared with the teacher and/or other students) helps teachers encourage writing outside of the period (e.g., content area instruction, independent activity, writing homework), and may be used later as material use for a dialogue format that yields productive interactions between the author and readers (e.g., a double-column entry journal for another's remarks in response to the writers entry) give thought to how the journal is to be evaluated, if at all. Teaching Writing to Diverse Student Populations by Access Center (2008): http://www.ldonline.org/article/22323/