The Sequence of Teaching Writing to Students

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  • 0:04 Writing Instruction Basics
  • 0:28 Major Steps
  • 1:20 Writing Instruction Strategies
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Teaching writing follows a predictable set of steps. What are they and what sequence do they follow? This lesson fills you in on the ins and outs of teaching writing.

Writing Instruction Basics

It's Olivia's first year as a teacher and she's a little nervous. How will she remember what to teach for writing instruction? She's seen veteran teachers and knows that eventually pacing and sequencing will be a snap. In the meantime, she's creating an outline of the important steps and strategies she'll use to teach students about writing. What are they? Olivia begins her outline with the major steps of the sequence.

Major Steps

Olivia's school will be using a workshop approach to teach writing. This follows a predictable sequence of teaching methods regardless of grade or writing genre. A writer's workshop lasts between 30 and 55 minutes and includes:

  1. A mini-lesson - short, intense, direct instruction on a specific topic (about 5-10 minutes)
  2. Independent writing - time during which students work on their writing (about 20-35 minutes)
  3. Share time - students come together to highlight strategies and share work (about 5-10 minutes)

Olivia has seen and been part of workshops before. She's familiar with the rhythm of these three steps. She also knows there's more to it than this. For example, where does interactive writing happen? And when do students edit and revise? She needs to add these strategies to her outline.

Writing Instruction Strategies

Now that Olivia has the overarching sequence of writer's workshop down, she wants to go back and add in the specific strategies that can be used for the mini-lesson, independent writing, and share time.

Just like it sounds, the mini-lesson is a short and sweet time during which the teacher instructs the students in a skill, such as grammar, or craft, like using vivid verbs. For example, a mini-lesson may focus on using an ellipsis correctly or on creating an inviting lead. Teaching strategies used during the mini-lesson include:


Read-alouds involve reading from a model book so students can see and observe a specific skill. For example, if teaching students how an author uses dialogue to engage readers, a teacher may use the book Charlotte's Web as a touchstone text, or model book.

Shared writing

This strategy is typically used to teach grammar or simple writing techniques. Teachers co-create a piece of writing with students on chart paper or an electronic device such as a smartboard. For example, you may do a shared writing experience to practice using commas.

Model writing

Teachers model, or show, students what it may look like to create a piece of work. If Olivia wants to teach her students how to hook readers with a good opening, she could create a piece in front of her students while they observe. This can be done on chart paper, so all students can see. It can also be done in a notebook that only she can see while she describes what she's doing to give students a glimpse into her thinking.

After the teacher gives the mini-lesson, she sends her students off to work on their own. During this time Olivia should plan to conduct writing conferences, or times when she'll meet with students one-on-one to check in on their progress. She'll also host group meetings called guided writing. These skill-based groups are pulled according to needs. If Olivia notices several students struggling with punctuation, she will meet with them and help catch them up.

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