Eight Best Practices

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An article written by Charles Whitaker, Ph.D. outlines the eight best practices in teaching writing (click here to download the one-page handout). The practices listed below have been proven to impact student achievement in writing.

Positive Atmosphere

o Inviting classroom
o Respect for students, their idea, backgrounds, interests
o Teacher shares his/her writing
o Expectations, procedures, and routines are established

Organize for Writing

o Writing Workshop: Mini lesson, guided writing, sharing
o Writing notebooks are used to store ideas, progress notes, writing resources, etc.

Meaningful Writing Opportunities

o Student choice and ownership
o Students write for "real" reasons (i.e. pamphlets for the office)
o Student work is published (wall, website, letters, etc.)

Reading and Writing Connection

o Reading is used as a model for writing.
o Discussion about how authors utilize writing techniques.
o Teachers encourage students to apply the techniques and characteristics of materials they read in their own writing.

Writing Across the Content Areas/Writing-to-Learn Opportunities

o Learning logs
o Response journals
o Quick Writes
o Demonstrate Learning: essays, reports, responses to prompts

Constructive Response to Writing

o Emphasis is on developing the writer, not "fixing" the piece of writing.
o Teachers use observation, conversation, and review of writing samples to determine what support students need.
o Constructive response happens during different phases of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing, and reflecting stage).
o A variety of techniques are used for response: conferences, written notes, peer conferencing (pairs or small group), response forms, whole-class response, and self-response.


o Students collaborate as writers, thinkers, and learners.
o Teacher models effective ways to collaborate.
o Occurs throughout the writing process.

Mini Lessons

o Short, 5-10 minute lesson focusing on skills and strategies in the curriculum.
o Teachers plan mini lessons based on student need.
o The skill and strategy is applied right away in the students' writing.