About Writing

How to Build Better Engineers: A Practical Approach to the Mechanics of Text

Author: Ron E. Smelser Summary: How do engineers write: in what ways, for what audiences, and for what purposes? How do we, as teachers, support students in understanding that writing clearly to communicate arguments in proposals and presentations is an important skill for college and careers? This article presents a...

“Why Keisha Can’t Write”: The Marginalization of Black Student Writing

Author: Dr. Kiara Lee-Heart Summary: A writing teacher responds to the famous essay “Why Johnny Can’t Write,” emphasizing the ways that its push for standardization has been particularly damaging for black students.

Bless, Press, Address: A Formative Response Protocol for Writing Groups

Summary: A useful resource for a writing group, Bless, Press, Address is a classic NWP formative response protocol designed to guide feedback to a writer on a draft piece of writing or multimedia project. Rather than offering a summative assessment of quality, the protocol invites group members to share how...

A Cure for Writer’s Block: Writing for Real Audiences

Author: Ann Rodier Summary: This teacher describes how she connects as a writer to a student whose drafts begin to find a real audience. She discovers that by guiding student writers toward an authentic purpose for their writing, young authors can see themselves as professional writers. Use this narrative as...

Looking at Student Writing as Part of Professional Development

Author: Bruce Penniman, Stephanie Joyce, Karen Smith and Julie Webb Summary: In this NWP webinar, several leaders from the Area3 (UC-Davis) and Western Massachusetts Writing Projects discuss their experiences offering professional development to high needs elementary schools. While the site leaders offer helpful insights and perspectives on the development of...

Writing to Transform: Teacher-Consultants Lead Change in Their Schools

Author: Linda Friedrich Summary: What do successful teacher leaders do? This short article suggests an emergent framework from a larger study about teacher leadership. Leaders address problems, facilitate collective learning, and celebrate the work of writing. This article could be powerful to read and discuss at a continuity event on...

In Common: Effective Writing for All Students—A Collection of K-12 Argument/Opinion Writing Samples

Author: The Vermont Writing Collaborative, Student Achievement Partners, CCSSO Summary: This collection, available online or as a PDF, contains a wide variety of K-12 student argument and opinion writing samples, accompanied by annotations using the language of the Common Core State Standards. These samples could be useful for professional development...

Writing Essays by Formula Teaches Students How Not to Think

Author: David Labaree Summary: What happens when we allow a tool to become our desired outcome? Education scholar David Labaree explores the dominance of the five-paragraph essay (and its lengthier relatives), and examines the consequences of valuing form over content and meaning.

Grammar—Comma—a New Beginning

Author: Mary Ehrenworth Summary: Teaching grammar through inquiry and seduction? In this piece, Mary Ehrenworth shares strategies for moving away from direct instruction (which seldom works) to making it possible for students to “have an apprenticeship relation with great authors, even at the sentence structure level.” By honoring diverse dialects...

Hacking Traditional Schooling: The Dialogic Classroom and the Notion of Play

Author: Steve Fulton and Cynthia D. Urbanski Summary: In this excerpt from Making Middle School: Cultivating Critical Literacy and Interdisciplinary Learning in Maker Spaces, Steve Fulton and Cynthia D. Urbanski draw a connection between Freire’s understanding of emancipatory education and Vygotsky’s idea of learning through play, arguing that maker education...