Updated: Dec 3, 2020
I will never forget the series of AH-HAH moments I experienced when I went to a week-long workshop in Colorado with Maureen Auman, author of Step Up to Writing more than 20 years ago. Maureen is a queen of explicit, systematic teaching of writing skills. Since that week I have learned from many excellent writing teachers and books: William Van Cleave, Winston Grammar, Writing Adventures by Austin and Padget.
Perhaps the most important thing to realize about writing is that it is such a multi-dimensional act. Here is a list of some, but not all, of the skills that comprise writing:
- Writing letters accurately and automatically
- Spelling individual words
- Understanding the meanings of words and using the correct words and tone to fit the written piece – ask yourself: “Am I to use informal, conversational vocabulary or more formal academic vocabulary?” “What are the specialized vocabulary words that should be included in this written piece?”
- Grammar and syntax – “Did I used nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs and prepositional phrases accurately in the correct sequence in my sentences?” “Did I use a variety of simple, compound and complex sentence structures in this piece?”
- Paragraph structure varies for narrative and expository writing. “If I am writing a narrative piece, did I organize the paragraphs based upon character development, dialogue, defining and elaborating on the setting and sequence of events?” “If I am writing an expository piece, do I have a general topic sentence for the piece and a topic sentence for each body paragraph?”
Teach each of these elements separately, teaching one element and then adding another to the first lesson and slowly teach the skills sequentially until you have the entire array of skills taught and gradually applied to many writing assignments.
If you want to learn in depth how to teach the spelling of individual words, check out my website, www.sashaborenstein.com and also come to the next training, A Teacher's Guide to Teaching Reading and Spelling: Bringing the Science of Reading into the Classroom, Letter/Sound Patterns and Orthography, Syllable Types, and Morphology