7 Essentials of Writing Instruction

1. Writing needs to be taught like any other basic skill, with explicit instruction and ample opportunity for practice. Almost every day, every student needs between fifty and sixty minutes for writing instruction.

2. Students deserve to write for real, to write the kinds of texts that they see in the world-nonfiction chapter books, persuasive letters, stories, lab reports, reviews, poems-and to write for an audience of readers, not just for the teacher’s red pen.

3. Writers write to put meaning on the page. Young people will especially invest themselves in their writing if they wrote about subjects that are important to them. The easiest way to support investment in writing is to teach children to choose their own topics most of the time.

4. Children deserve to be explicitly taught how to write. Instruction matters – and this includes instruction in spelling and conventions, as well as in the qualities and strategies of good writing.

5. Students deserve the opportunity and instruction necessary for them to cycle through the writing process as they write: rehearsing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing they’re writing.

6. Writers read. For children to write well, they need opportunities to read and hear texts read, and to read as insiders, studying what other authors have done they, too, could try.

7. Students deserve clear goals and frequent feedback. They need to hear ways their writing is getting better and to know what their next steps might be.