Planning Writing Instruction


My very first year of teaching (1997) our school focus was on writing.  As a new teacher, this was a hefty goal.  I was going through teacher shock trying to process all the information, techniques, planning, and lesson materials for every subject.  Writing was an area without any available resources that I could take home. Because I was feeling less than in the area of teaching writing, I ended up asking for a modeled writing lesson from our district writing specialist.

After the first modeled lesson, I was completely hooked! She took my students and involved them in a piece of modeled/shared writing as I furiously took notes and tried to burn photographic memories into my brain. They were excited (because she was too) They were engaged, inspired, and begging to write!

From that point on I kept experimenting and working through all the aspects of teaching writing adding new ideas and resources to my repertoire as I learned of them.

Through the years I have enjoyed teaching writing so much!  However, one area that never fails to try my teacher brain, is lesson planning inspiration day after day.  I want well-rounded writers so I don’t want my lesson planning to find itself in a writing rut!!!

During my last two teaching conferences this month with SDE,  I have enjoyed talking and presenting with teachers about writing mini-lessons, and interactive and shared writing.  In these presentations, I have gathered that planning writing lessons tends to be an Achilles heel even for experienced teachers.  Following up a powerful week of writing we can feel right back at square one trying to think of new and fresh ideas for our writers.

I decided to take things into my own little teacher plannin’ heart and break down all the components of learning to write into one document.  As you plan for your writing lessons, it is amazing to see how many skills you can work through in just one simple writing mini-lesson.

Because there are 5-10 skills per area, the tendency is to cram as many in as we humanly can.  This isn’t always the most effective strategy for our students.  (Don’t ask me how I came to find that out….shudder– thank goodness they will all learn in spite of my best efforts sometimes)

The rule of thumb is to focus on 2 to 4 teaching points in one particular lesson (One is perfectly OK too!)

Once you establish the areas you are going to hit with your mini-lesson, you’ll want to decide on the text or information you will use for your lesson, how the learning will be completed, and how you will engage all of the students during the process.  (no problem right????)

(To get these documents just click the pictures above)

Gah…want to borrow my paper sack and be hyperventilating buddies?!?!  It’s a lot to take in!

Last year I began creating the materials I would need for my writing mini-lessons on computer rather than always writing out anchor charts and sentence strips that ended up getting thrown out each year.

These lessons serve two purposes.

One, I used them whole group to deliver a focused writing mini-lesson, and two, I placed them into the writing center for students to use for hands-on continual practice.   The best part….They had quality structure at the writing center rather than relying on divine inspiration to happen every time they visited the writing center during guided reading.  #doublewritingwin

Examples of these lessons






Students make a sentence with two rhyming words

All of the ideas above, come from one of my writing units called Engaging Writing Volume 2.  For more writing ideas and resources check out my custom category on teachers pay teachers by clicking the picture below.

I hope you find writing inspiration!!!

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  1. I feel I struggle in teaching writing and you hit the nail on the head. It's so hard to plan for week after week. Thanks for teaching me a mini lesson and providing me ideas to incorporate into my mini lessons!

  2. I struggle in my writing lessons! I listened to you at the SDE conference this year and was inspired to up my game. I am just wondering what a lesson would look like in class. I purchased the monthly mini lesson bundle and am wondering is that all I need? I am seeing your ‘engaging writing activities’ bundle and wonder if that needs to go with the mini lesson bundle. Any help is greatly appreciated!!!