<Class 5: Tutoring Math....................................................................Class 7: English Language Learners

Key Topics

Student Attitudes Toward Writing
Writing Process Fit for Young Writers
Poetry Writing/Creative Writing
Perspectives on Teaching Writing


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"While writing is an essentially creative intellectual process, it is often taught in schools as an exercise in memorizing, editing, and manipulating of words with an emphasis on standard spelling and correct usage of conventions."
(National Writing Project & Nagin, 2006)

Reasons why students do not enjoy writing:

pressure to be correct

Children in kindergarten through sixth grade find the physical demands of forming letters when writing in print or cursive can be intensely laborious. All students feel pressure to spell words in standard spelling, use punctuation, grammar, and other conventions of written language correctly, diminishing confidence in writing and also enjoyment from expressing ideas in writing.

lack of confidence

Many young writers are stymied by the terror of the blank page—a feeling of not knowing what to write—that begins in the early grades and continues on through middle and high school. It is very difficult for a child to write when she or he does not feel confident as a writer.

lack of joy

Students associate writing with worksheets devoted to grammar and punctuation or with research reports about teacher-assigned topics. They fail to discover the joys of expressing ideas using written language because they often cannot choose their topic or their genre.

misdirected self-evaluation

“You will not like my writing,” one first grader told us at an after-school writing workshop, “it is too messy.” He equated writing with neatness, but fine motor control skills prevented him from producing neatly arranged letters on a page.
Students learn to measure their proficiency as a writer by mechanics alone, how they form letters, how they use writing conventions like capitals and punctuation, or how they spell, rather than by their ideas or what they might say.

lack of patience

Some students want to be up and moving around, engaged with other students, sometimes to the distraction of the teacher and others in class. They lack the ideas or confidence to write alone, especially when the writing topic is not of their choice.

mistaken beliefs of being smart

When students do not find writing pleasant or easy to do, they conclude they are not smart, setting in motion a downward cycle of negative feelings about being a writer and a learner. Students connect the ease and enjoyment of writing with being smart in school.

1. As you consider these reasons, bullet list those that negatively affected your feelings about being a writer in elementary through high school.
Explain how you felt about writing then and your attitude about writing now.

If none of the reasons negatively affected you, what were your feelings about being a writer and how did the teaching of writing help you to feel confident?



The Scholastic Poetry Engine requires a flash plug in. Computers in the DuBois library may have this; computers in ILC, also. With a MAC, try using a browser that is not Safari; try Mozilla Firefox or Chrome.
2. Compose one poem at each of the 4 interactive poetry engines; copy or hand write these in the assignment.

Scholastic Publishing Poetry Idea Engine

3. Looking through students' eyes, how might the Poetry Engine influence a growth mindset for students who say they do not like to write poetry or that they are not writers?

4. Thinking backwards, might you have enjoyed using the Poetry Engine in elementary school?
Would you have laughed and introduced the Engine to friends?
What would you add to or create for the Engine to make it more interesting for you and others?

Talking is writing. We communicate thoughts, concepts, ideas in spoken words. Conversation is writing that is not recorded on paper or in other ways.



requires multiple writing strategies:

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The writer begins prewriting/brainstorming:freewriting, conversing with others, listening to read alouds, webbing ideas to connect or categorize information, or engaging in other activities that inspire ideas for composing a text.
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The writer drafts:composing a first attempt of the writing, allowing ideas to flow forth without stopping or making large changes to the text. The goal is writing whatever comes to mind. Drafting ideas may evolve through a few brainstorming sessions and several written copies.
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The writer revises reviews, re-visions:
to create clarity, increase interest, and support smooth flow of ideas. Authors cannot work alone in this pursuit. Through questions and suggestions, a teacher or other writers become involved in the process of making writing interesting to readers. Feedback from readers and listeners is guides changes that produce a final draft with improved communication between the writer and the audience.

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The writer edits:
after a draft is revised to clarify the meaning of the text. Editing is necessary now to check the structure from a reader’s viewpoint. Standard punctuation and spelling make reading easier, and that is why the conventions exist. To ensure that editing is something young writers learn how to do, someone knowledgeable of the rules of printed text should be the editor-in-chief, providing the expertise and support to add conventions without endless labor or confusion on the part of the writer.

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The writer publishes:
a complete, but not necessarily completed, text. Perhaps later the author will return to do more revisions but the writing is ready for an audience. Publishing may involve many different formats, from a read aloud to a performance to a display of the writing in a public place, with the goal of making the writing available for audiences to read and to hear.

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A Writing Process Fit to Young Writers
creates a bridge between writing and writers to inspire students to express their ideas creatively while learning how and when to use the conventions of written language such as book spelling (standard spelling), stop signs for readers (punctuation) and maps to the destination (paragraphs). (Edwards, et. al., 2003).

Writers generate ideas, compose initial versions, read and change their material, and share what they have done with readers and listeners. Throughout, the writer is not alone, but in constant conversation with other people (often teachers, but also other students) who offer new perspectives, thoughtful comments, and appreciative support.

Pushing young writers to write before they are ready, making them edit a text too quickly, or rushing them from first draft to publication, all create a sense of writing as a race to the finish line with the goal of getting something done as quickly as possible.

Leaving the audience out of the process is also counterproductive. Writers need to have readers comment on their drafts in order to revise them and receive new reader responses as the work evolves. In this way everyone becomes a writer, always working through part of the process. Otherwise writing is viewed as a singular activity that only a special few have the talent and mental resolve to do well.

The essence of the process is the flow of ideas that dynamically connects each element to the others. If any of the ingredients of the writing process are missing or are shortchanged, then the writer and the writing suffer.

Process Approaches to Writing has been at the center of writing instruction in schools for more than 30 years.
(Graves, 1991; Calkins, 1986; Mermelstein, 2005).

5. Do you enjoy writing college assignments? Do you write anything for your own pleasure?

6. Analyzing your writing, how did you learn to improve your skills through high school and college?

7. Bullet list the parts of the writing process you pay most attention to as you write.

Camera-video.png Two videos show writing process in classrooms. View each one.

8. In, Writing Poetry, 2nd graders compose starting their process with pre-writing/brainstorming in a group with the teacher and ending in publishing by reading aloud to everyone. Viewing the other parts of the writing process they use as they compose, which part(s) did you find most surprising or interesting? Explain why.

9. In, A Room of Writers, the 3rd grade teacher utilizes MANY techniques to help youngsters feel like a writer and show that they are writers. The first is that she writes and asks the children for revising ideas. Did you experience this in any of your writing classes?
Bullet list 6 of the techniques to instruct and inspire the young writers that you think would have helped you as a young writer.

10. I learned from Bob Maloy to always bring something of my own writing to share with students and to ask what they might add or change in my poem or story. What are the benefits of reading aloud a small piece of your creative writing with students to ask for THEIR suggestions do you think?


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Computers, the Internet, word processing, handheld devices, apps and other technologies provide ongoing support to students from initial brainstorming of ideas to final publishing of written work. These technologies are not add-ons for writers, but ways for teachers and students to find the combination of tools that best supports each individual student as a creative writer.

11. If you were to earn a living as a writer, what kind of writing would you choose to learn how to do? What jobs would you want as a writer?

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Three questions (number 27, 28, & 29) about the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civll War.
  • These questions focus on standard forms and procedures

Writing Examples from MCAS: 2017 MCAS Student Work and Scoring Guides

2017 Grade 8. Science and Engineering: Building a Birdhouse
2017 Grade 8 Science and Engineering: Discovery of Fossils

2017 Grade 10: Composition; A Character Who Deceives

2017 Grade 4 Mathematics: Crayons in a Cup

  • 2014 Grade 4 Mathematics
  • 2014 Grade 10 English Language Arts

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Opener: Who has the largest vocabulary in music?


Show the page of genres included in the list/ ask for lists of 5 candidates who might answer this question.
Show the graph that identifies the top 3 that shows the space of word difference between these writers.
Show the top 6 winners and the GENRE graph at the bottom of the page.

Listen to the audio of Jay Z reading the dictionary: the point is all of these people have in common:
  • Interest in words to say something and tell stories.
  • Willing to study to gain vocabulary.
  • Glad to practice the craft to improve skills and express his ideas to an audience.

Children are interested in words/have something to say orally and in print/take joy from practicing the craft if it is interesting, meaningful and fun,

From Inventions to Conventions slide show

Just as young kids try new things, we have some to offer you:

Additional Resources

Student Attitudes Toward Writing


Transforming Tech wiki section on Communication
For more on the connections between technology and writing.

How do we reach boys who do not want to write what is expected in the classroom?
Ali Carr-Chellman explains why boys are turning away from school and how they can become interested in learning again.

NCTE Beliefs About the Teaching of Writing
Affirming the idea that every student is a writer, right now.

National Day of Writing website

Poetry Writing/Creative Writing

Click here for Poetry Writing Resources

Poetry Through the Ages

Apps for Poets

The Best Lesson for New Readers Might Be the One They Teach Themselves

The Writer's Almanac
A daily almanac of information about history and writers with a poem each day to delight or enlighten or add new vocabulary to your store of words.

It's the birthday of novelist and columnist John Gould (books by this author), born in Brighton, Massachusetts (1908). Gould and his wife settled in Lisbon Falls, Maine, on the farm where his great-grandfather had homesteaded. In the 1960s, Gould was working as the editor of the Lisbon Enterprise, and one day the local high school called him up and said they were sending over a student who had gotten in trouble; the student was supposed to be the editor of the school paper, but he was so bored by the job that he had written and published a satirical version called The Village Vomit,mocking all his teachers. As punishment, the school ordered him to go work at theEnterprise and find out what real newspaper work was like. The first day, Gould taught the young man how to shape up his writing and get rid of unnecessary words. The student later said: "Gould said something else that was interesting on the day I turned in my first two pieces: write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but then it goes out." That high schooler was Stephen King. King wrote later: "This editor was the man who taught me everything I know about writing in 10 minutes."
In 1942, Gould wrote his first weekly column for The Christian Science Monitor, and he continued that column for more than 60 years, until his death in 2003. He wrote about baseball, nighttime sleigh rides, fly fishing, a 100-year-old woman riding on a fire truck for the first time, his mother's homeland of Prince Edward Island, molasses cookies, and how you should never forget to tell your bees if there has been a birth, wedding, or death in your family.
One of his earliest books, Farmer Takes a Wife (1945), was a big best-seller. He went on to write 30 books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Fastest Hound Dog in the State of Maine (1953) and Tales from Rhapsody Home; Or, What They Don't Tell You about Senior Living (2000).
He said: "Writing a good essay isn't that easy. You can't do it with a pointing stick. I try to make a point obliquely, adroitly, and whenever possible, with humor. It must always be a surprise. The surprise is what makes people laugh." from the Writer's Almanac,

The Writer's Almanac Sept. 27, 2014
'A City Girl Feeds Country Cows' -Sandra Becker, and short biographies of writers whose work expands our ideas of what writing is, why we do it, and how to persevere.

Upgoer 5
For clarity, can you explain a difficult topic using only the 10 hundred most used small words?

"Can I Have A Word?"
Developed by Barbican Education, giving teachers new ideas and resources to inspire creative writing in the classroom.

Riddle Interactive
From the National Council of Teachers of English, Riddle Interactive is an opportunity for writers to create fun, animated poems.

RhymeZone resource of words
Rhyming words or words that sound alike, definitions, synonyms as well as famous quotes.

A Writing Process Fit for Young Writers

Remodeling in the Writing Workshop as it meets the Common Core

Small Words in UpGoer
Journalist and blogger Sally James explains why using small words can be useful.

Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Do you know of the downloadable podcasts to help you with writing?

The Writing Revolution, Peg Tyre, October, 2012, Atlantic Magazine
Explicitly teaching word use and sentence structure across all topics. What this can do for students' clarity of thought and skillful writing.
(Hear the podcast w/Peg Tyre below.)

Five Paragraph Essays

5 Paragraph Essay and Outline for "The Hazard of Moviegoing" from English Center, Gallaudet University

Sample Five Paragraph Essay

Perspectives on Teaching Writing

Next Draft: Changing Practices in Writing Instruction
Short, relevant pieces from practitioners about how writing instruction is changing to meet all learners where they are.

NPR Writing
American Public Media podcast on Radioworks: Peg Tyre, author of the Atlantic magazine article, The Writing Revolution, discusses the learning of the students profiled in the article.

Teachers Teaching Teachers
For a perspective on teaching writing to diverse learners, read the comments of Wilma Ortiz-Marrero, the 2010 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, and faculty member in the Amherst Public Schools.

Teachers Are The Center of Education: Writing, Learning and Leading in the Digital Age
A 2010 report that contends that technology is essential to the teaching of writing.

Rafael Campo's student physicians embrace poetry to hone art of healing
The National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges wants writing to be at the center, not the margins of school curriculum instead of its report.

The Nation's Report Card: Writing 2011
Presents findings from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress test, the first conducted exclusively on computers

Writing and School Reform
College Board's report on how writing is being neglected in schools, what what should be done in order to lessen the gap in the curriculum

Read Required Writing in Physics Class The Washington Post, October 14, 2010

Use size 9 font, copy and paste each question before writing your response to it.

Weekly Topic: Tutoring Writing
Class date due: 10-20-16
Tutoring Site

Student Attitudes Toward Writing.
1. Bullet list all the reasons on this list that negatively affected your feelings about being a writer in elementary through high school.
Explain how you felt about writing then and your attitude about writing now.

If none of the list of reasons negatively affected you, what were your feelings about being a writer and how did the teaching of writing help you?

Poetry Writing/Creative Writing
Compose poems at each of the 4 interactive poetry engines; copy or hand write these in the assignment.

3. How might the Poetry Engine influence a growth mindset in students who say they do not like to write or that they are not writers?
Do you think that you would have enjoyed using the Poetry Engine in elementary school? Why?

A Writing Process Fit for Young Writers
3. Do you now enjoy writing class assignments? Do you write anything for your own pleasure?

4. Has your writing improved through high school and college? Explain how this occurred.

5. Which parts of the writing process do you pay most attention to as you write?
Which of the parts do you pay least attention to?

6. As you view the second-graders in the video, Writing Poetry, compose from pre-writing/brainstorming with the teacher to publishing by reading aloud to everyone, what other parts of the writing process did you see students using?
Which of ALL of the parts did you find most surprising or interesting? Explain why.

7. Bullet list ALL the techniques you observed the third-grade teacher using in, A Room of Writers, to instruct and inspire the young writers. It is a long list.

8. I learned from Bob Maloy to always bring something of my own writing to share with students and to ask what they might add or change in my poem or story. What are the benefits of reading aloud a small piece of your creative writing with students to ask for their suggestions do you think?

Perspectives on Teaching Writing

11. How might you have benefited from writing a 1000-word essay on a topic of your choice in the physics class?
Explain your ideas using information from the article.

10. If you were to earn a living as a writer, what kind of writing would you choose to learn how to do?