Updated: Mar 28
In the world of teaching and learning there are a few fundamental truths; you can never have too many pencils, the tissue box is always empty and you can always count on kids to ask you “What are we doing?” after you’ve explained the directions three or four times. Another fundamental truth of teaching and learning is that modeling is best practice. Kids learn best when they have a clear and concise model to follow in order to produce their best work. This truth carries into all kinds of instruction, including writing. Writing is arguably one of the trickiest subjects to model and teach because so much of the writing process is internal and metacognitive. If writing instruction is overwhelming you, let us get you writing ready using our differentiated text-based writing products. Each product is packed with everything you need to build an engaging writing unit…stress-free! In addition to original articles, graphic organizers and final draft paper, each print and go writing resource includes a “Writing Add-Ons” section to help you build an awesome writing unit that will engage your learners and help them find success as writers! Let’s dive in!
About Writing Lesson Add Ons
These add-ons are intended to be used as you see fit with your learners! Each writing packet can be used with or without these additional resources however they provide an extra layer of support for both you and your learners.
Picture Quick Write
What is a quick write?
Pre-writing doesn’t happen before the writing process, it is the first step of the writing process. Quick writes are a great way to practice pre-writing in a low-stress way for learners. A quick write gives students a chance to write anything and everything that comes to mind about a topic. This will help them to develop their opinion about the topic.
Benefits of quick writes:
Quick writes allow learners to brainstorm without the pressures that writing typically brings. In this exercise, writers can put their ideas onto paper without worrying about spelling, grammar or other conventions. Quick writes also benefit you, as well! Quick writes take a snapshot of what each learner knows not only about the topic, but also about the conventions and mechanics of writing. You can use this snapshot to help guide your instruction.
A Quick Write in Action from our Tiny Home Opinion Writing Resource
This page can be used as a fun way to introduce the activity and a way to evaluate students’ prior knowledge about tiny homes before they read the articles or the prompt.
Unpacking the Prompt
Understanding the prompt is the first step to making learners successful essay writers.
A writing prompt gives writers a lot of information. It tells them what kind of writing they should be producing- opinion, narrative, persuasive or informative. It also tells writers what should be included in their writing such as an introduction, conclusion, text evidence, and more.
Benefits of unpacking the prompt:
Writing is a very internal, thoughtful and sometimes difficult process. More than that, different kinds of writing call for different levels of difficulty. For example, a learner may have an easier time writing a letter to a friend than writing an essay. For prompt based writing exercises, like the ones shown here, there is an added layer of difficulty for young writers..reading comprehension. In order for learners to be successful essay writers, they need to practice reading and understanding writing prompts.
Unpack the Prompt in Action from our Civil Rights Movement Informational Writing Resource:
This prompt is looking for students to write an informational essay describing the effects of Dr. King’s nonviolent approach in creating change. Students can use the subsequent chart to help them underline keywords in the prompt and determine the structure of their essay.
Making a Claim
What is a claim and why do writers need one?
A claim is the main argument or idea of an essay. It is one of the most important parts of essay writing and helps define the direction of the piece. The claim is the central idea of the essay, which is why students need to include a claim in their writing.
Benefits of practicing making a claim together:
Making a claim can be hard for students to understand. They must state their opinion as if it were the truth and then back it up using reasons, examples and evidence. To make it even more challenging, they then have to write it down with appropriate grammar, spelling and punctuation! By modeling this and practicing together, young writers will have a clear guide to look back on and follow for the next essay they write.
Make a Claim in Action from our Tiny Home Opinion Writing Resource:
In this activity, students are given an excerpt from one of the articles and are tasked with writing a claim that supports it. This will serve as an example of how to create a claim in their own writing.
Backing Up Your Opinion
How can writers back up their opinion?
Writers should be backing up their opinions with examples and evidence from the text. Kids will often fall back on anecdotes and life experiences to back up their thoughts and opinions however when writing essays, this skill needs to be lifted to the next level. Much like prompts, this skill can be tricky because of how heavily it relies on strong reading comprehension. Therefore when modeling and practicing this with learners, it is important to show them how to find text evidence then how to include that evidence in their writing to support their claim.
Benefits of backing up your opinion:
Using examples and evidence from the text makes a claim stronger. Without reasons, evidence and examples a claim is just an opinion. In essay writing, we want to elevate young writers’ opinions by including text evidence.
Have your writers plan and write their supporting paragraphs before the introduction paragraph. This helps writers write concise and meaningful introductions.
Backing Up Your Opinion in Action from our Tiny Home Opinion Writing Resource:
In this activity, students are provided with two examples of evidence and addressing the “other side” of an argument. The goal is for students to read both examples and, between them, identify the strongest parts of both writings. Students then are tasked with creating a paragraph using the best parts of both examples.
Writing and Introduction and Conclusion
Creating a strong beginning and ending
Including compelling introductory and concluding paragraphs is a must in essay writing however it is not enough to just tell kids to do it. Modeling examples, and in this case, non-examples will help learners take their introduction and conclusion paragraphs to the next level.
Benefits of practicing introduction and conclusion paragraphs:
In order for students to become successful essay writers, they need to be able to produce quality introductory paragraphs that hook their readers from the very first sentence. Readers don’t want to be bored by what they are reading, so writers need to provide an entertaining opener to get their readers interested in reading the rest of their essay. Essays also need to have a strong, compelling conclusion to neatly tie together all of the author's hard work.
Introduction and Conclusion in Action from our Tiny Home Opinion Writing Resource:
There are two student examples given on these pages. The goal is for students to read paragraphs 1 and 2. Between them, students should identify the strongest parts of both writings then create the best paragraph using the best parts of the examples.
Planning a Unit
These writing resources can be used as mini-lessons in your pre-existing curriculum or to build your own writing unit around these skills and essay types. In addition, each writing resource comes with an editable lesson template!
Sample Unit Plan
This is just a possible example of how to use this resource in your writing instruction. Your pacing will be different depending on time in your writing period, how often you see students, their academic level and more! Do what is best for your learners!
Final thoughts for success
When in doubt, model it out!
Strong, consistent modeling will help learners better understand essay writing, making them strong essay writers. Don’t forget to also model the hard parts of writing like making mistakes, fixing what doesn’t make sense and writers’ block.
Make your writing instruction bite-sized
There’s a saying in teaching; you have to go slow to go fast. If you want your learners to become successful essay writers, breaking the process down into small pieces will help them grow their writing skills!
Let us do the heavy lifting
Feel like you still need support? Our writing products include everything you need! The print and digital resources include printable differentiated articles and many graphic organizers to help students learn how to write essays. Have your student explore the articles to get ideas on how to respond to the writing prompt.
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