Smekens Education Access logo

Teaching Writing Skills All Year Long


Quick Links

Analyze Mini versus Mother lode

Develop a yearlong vision

Compare calendars:
mother lode v. mini-units.

Identify advantages
of mini-units.

Massage the “mother lode”
to troubleshoot 6 scenarios.

Find time for writer’s workshop

Integrate the Writer’s Workshop within the subject area.

Blur the lines of literacy targeting writing skills and their reciprocal reading skills.

Introduce the Writing Modes

Clarify mode versus genre

Maintain a foldable that reveals the writing purposes: to persuade/argue, to inform/explain, to entertain/share narrative stories.

With each spiraled mini-unit, target a different genre. Look across grade levels to ensure students experience a variety of genres.

Honor developmental stages within the modes

Kick Off a New Unit

Dissect mentor text examples when introducing a new genre

For free anchor papers, check out Kristina’s favorite websites. Most include detailed criteria for which skills the piece exemplifies.

Appendix C of the Common Core ELA standards includes K-12 student writing samples per mode.

Trait Trackers include a list of trait-based writing skills that could be taught using popular picture books.

Plan Essential Skills

Identify the essential skills to teach per writing mode

Honor the “trump” traits

Recognize the essential skills per mode.

Teach conventions in context

Tie conventions to writing skills, units, and stages

Scaffold Writing Experiences

Redefine what counts as a writing product

Organize Lesson Materials

Create a Writing Crate of lesson resources

Plan the specifics of each mini-unit

Save these editable Word documents to your virtual Writing Crate, or print the pages back-to-back, tape them together, and create mini-unit folders.

Red 4-page unit template

Download sample informative mini-unit lesson plans and resources

Assess the Writing Products

Build a non-writing rubric to first teach key terms

Clean Desk Caddy
Crayons | Glue | Scissors | Pencil

Clean Locker/Cubby
Bookbag | Lunch Box | Coat | Trash

Build trait-based analytic rubrics

When starting Phase 4 of the launch, Kristina referenced the power of creating kid-friendly rubrics with your students. This concept is reinforced in an article in the February 2012 ASCD Education Update newsletter and based on the report, Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Establish and grow a holistic writing rubric