The Stenhouse Blog

3 Quick Tips to Boost Your Writing Instruction

Posted by admin on Oct 18, 2019 2:09:19 PM

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has designated October 20 as the National Day on Writing, so we thought we’d give you some ideas from a few of our Stenhouse writing resources to take back to your classroom.


Boston 2012 584


Teacher as Writer

Teachers who do not write themselves only teach writing to students. . .. Teachers who write experience similar struggles of sharing their writing with others, too.” –Stacey Shubitz and R. Lynne Dorfman

In Welcome to Writing Workshop, Stacey Shubitz and Lynne R. Dorfman stress that the idea of teacher as writer is an essential ingredient to writing workshop success. Being a teacher who writes regularly is the secret to the success of a teacher of writers. A teacher participates as a member of the writing community by writing, often modeling during minilessons, writing in his or her writer’s notebook and referring to it often and sharing examples of the kinds of writing she does outside the classroom. When the teacher shares parts of a letter he or she is writing to a friend, a birthday card, or a blog post, the level of writing workshop lifts because the teacher becomes another writer within the writing community.

Writing Numbers vs. Recognizing Numerals

In the book Why Write in Math Class?, authors Linda Dacey, Kathleen O’Connell Hopping, and Rebeka Eston Salemi point out that when students circle numerals within a multiple-choice format, match numerals to word names, or compare or order numbers written for them, they are merely demonstrating their ability to recognize the correct way numerals are printed, not their ability to write them. Teachers need to make sure that students across the elementary grades have the opportunities to write numerals and connect them to the structure of our number system. Try these tasks to get them writing!

  • Count large collections of objects and record the totals
  • Record estimates of large quantities or long distances
  • Explore books such as How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti (2012) that connect visual models to numbers and word names while providing wonderful opportunities to estimate quantities
  • Have a scavenger hunt for particular number words in the news or within informational texts and write the corresponding numerals

Quick Write Strategy: Mystery Letter

In Paula Bourque’s book Spark!, we learn how incorporating Quick Writes into your daily instruction not only increases the volume and stamina of your writers, but it also helps them discover their voices as writers freely, without being graded. In this Quick Write strategy the teacher reveals a “mystery letter” and asks students to think about the sound the letter makes. Then the teacher asks students to let their brains think of as many words as they can that start with that letter sound. When it’s done as a Quick Write, students write the letter in the center of the paper and then quickly draw or doodle things that start with that sound, for about five minutes. Then ask students to label their pictures, if they can, with at least the beginning sound, which just so happens to always be the mystery letter!


Mystery Letter


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Topics: Writing