National Writing Project

Helping Our Students Become Better Writers

Publication: Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo, a blog on Education Week
Date: November 24, 2012

Summary: Larry Ferlazzo poses the question, "What advice can you give to help teachers be more effective in helping students become better writers?" In part two of this blog series, educators Aimee Buckner and Carolyn Coman, and NWP Director, National Programs, Tanya Baker discuss how teachers can effectively help students become better writers.


Excerpt from Article

Response from Aimee Buckner

How can we teach writing in ways that give students the opportunity to explore the gray areas while learning basic strategies? The best format I have remains the workshop structure. This class structure provides students time to write on a daily basis. After a 5 or 10 mini-lesson that is truly mini, students have uninterrupted time to write, enabling the teacher to confer with each student in a differentiated manner. If you aren't already doing this, implementing a writing workshop with your students would be an effective first step towards improving their writing. And whether or not writing workshop is already a part of your daily practice, here are some tips you can put into place immediately to start improving student writing. . . ."

Response from Carolyn Coman

"Remember, above all, that writing is a process—for you and for your students. Writers develop over time, with consistent practice, in a safe and nourishing environment. There are no short cuts, quick fixes or one-size-fits-all approach. Meet each and every student at her particular starting point, and proceed respectfully from there, one thing at a time. Divine each student's particular strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge in choosing how and what you say in responding to their work. You hold their hearts in your hands. . . ."

Response from Tanya Baker

"At the National Writing Project, teachers regularly write together. It starts in the Invitational Summer Institute, a 3-4 week intensive professional development experience in which K–university teachers across the content areas hone their skills as teachers and as writers, writing and thinking about writing for various audiences and purposes, in different structures and about different kinds of content. While each invitational institute is hosted by a local university-based Writing Project, and each may not be exactly the same, they all include opportunities for teachers to write, to read about the teaching of writing, and to share practices in the teaching of writing. We know all three aspects of the summer institute are important to developing a theoretical base and a sound practice in the teaching of writing, but the part that is often left out of other professional development experiences for teachers is the practice of writing itself. . . ."

Read the Full Article

Read "Response: Helping Our Students Become Better Writers, Part Two" on Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo , a blog on Education Week.

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