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Teaching Writing in the Elementary Classroom*
 
Course Description
    

All students have the capacity to be good writers, and writers learn to write by writing: these are the basic tenets of Teaching Writing in the Elementary Classroom. During this workshop, participants will learn instructional strategies to teach students in the upper elementary grades how to write narrative and informational text. Participants will explore how to teach their students about the traits of good writing through mini-lessons, writing conferences, and using established evaluation criteria. Thinking about writing as a process, participants will consider how to organize instruction to guide students through the many stages of writing and will go through the instructional cycle from writing prompt to revision as they create their final projects.
*This course was designed for participants who are currently teaching in an elementary school or who have previous experience teaching in and elementary school.

 
Course Syllabus
    

Teaching Writing in the Elementary Classroom


Workshop Overview

All students have the capacity to be good writers, and writers learn to write by writing: these are the basic tenets of Teaching Writing in the Elementary Classroom. During this workshop, participants will learn instructional strategies to teach students in the upper elementary grades how to write narrative and informational text. Participants will explore how to teach their students about the traits of good writing through mini-lessons, writing conferences, and using established evaluation criteria. Thinking about writing as a process, participants will consider how to organize instruction to guide students through the many stages of writing and will go through the instructional cycle from writing prompt to revision as they create their final projects.

Goals

During this workshop, participants will learn skills and strategies to:

  • Teach students about the traits of good writing;
  • Use consistent criteria to evaluate student’s writing and provide feedback;
  • Learn teaching strategies to help students write narrative and informational text;
  • Understand stages of the writing process and organize instruction to guide students through the stages;
  • Plan a mini-lesson for pre-writing and a student conference around revision.

Alignment to Standards

This workshop meets the standards for Content, Instructional Design, and Technology as defined in the National Standards of Quality for Online Courses, published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning(iNACOL).

This workshop provides teachers with an opportunity to meet the Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership standard as defined in the National Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers, published by the International Society for Technology in Education(ISTE).

This workshop will help participants to support their students in meeting the following standards from the National Council of Teachers of English(NCTE):

Standard 5: Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Standard 6: Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.

Standard 7: Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Standard 12: Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Intended Audience

This workshop is intended for teachers of grades K-6, ELA coaches, technology specialists, curriculum specialists, and professional development specialists. Participants are expected to have regular access to computers and be proficient with email and web-browsing.

Workshop Outline

Session One: What is Good Writing?

By establishing criteria for good writing, teachers and students can have a common vocabulary for talking about writing in the instruction, drafting, revision, and assessment stages of the writing process. In this session, participants will examine the Six +1® Traits criteria for good writing and practice using these traits with a self-selected picture book. Participants will then discuss with their colleagues what they believe good writing to be.

Session Two: Telling a Story with Narrative Writing

Writing in the intermediate grades focuses on two main purposes, or modes: narrative writing to tell a story and informational or expository writing to inform or explain. In the next two sessions, you will explore the organizational structure of narrative and informational text and characteristics of good writing for both modes. You will focus on teaching the elements of personal narratives here, in particular the “Tell-Show” strategy to encourage descriptive language from your students. Finally, you will complete Part II of your final project template.

Session Three: Informing or Explaining with Informational Writing

In response to a prompt, writers need to decide the best organizational structure for their writing. To craft informational or expository text, good writers consider not only the organizational structure, but the purpose, audience and form for their writing as well. In this session you will consider strategies for teaching characteristics of good informational writing and will understand how graphic organizers can help students prepare their ideas.

Session Four: Writing is a Process

As we have explored in previous sessions, writing requires thinking, organizing, and “speaking” to readers in a compelling and engaging way. How does a writer—especially an intermediate student—coordinate all those goals? Writing instruction that sees writing as a process can help young writers develop the multiple dimensions of writing over time. In this session you will review the different stages of the writing process before designing a pre-writing activity for your final project.

Session Five: Evaluating Writing

Evaluating writing can be a challenging process. Teachers encounter writing on different topics, for different purposes, and by students of varying abilities. Using a rubric for traits of good writing can guide teachers in the process of evaluating student writing. In Session Five you will use the Six +1 Trait rubric to practice scoring student writing samples and share your discoveries in the discussion board. Finally, you will work on your final project template, adding a “revision plan” based on the Six +1 Traits criteria.

Session Six: Conferring with Students about Writing and Revising

In writing conferences, teachers need to be able to articulate what the writers are doing well and also provide constructive feedback about what needs work to help the writers make progress. Instruction in revision helps students decide what to revise to improve their writing and how to make those changes, and the writing conference often provides the necessary one-on-one instruction students need to move forward with their work. In this session you will review a checklist for the 6+1 Traits and plan a student writing conference to complete your final project template.

 

Assessment

 

Specific questions about assessment, expectations, or requirements should be directed to the facilitator of this workshop.

 

WVDE recommends that the following criteria be used to determine successful completion of this workshop:

  • Participation in all session discussion forums;
  • Completion of the workshop’s final project, submitted to the facilitator and/or posted in the appropriate discussion forum; and
  • Completion of the orientation and final workshop surveys.

Discussion Participation
Participants are required to post a minimum of three substantial postings, including one that begins a new thread and at least two that respond to an existing thread, in all session discussion forums.

Participants will be evaluated on the frequency and quality of their discussion board participation. Postings will be reviewed based on their relevance, demonstrated understanding of course concepts, examples cited, overall quality, degree to which they extend the discussion, and tone. These criteria are discussed further in the Discussion Board Expectations.

Workshop Activities
Participants are expected to complete the workshop readings and activities as posted in each of the session assignment pages. Activities may include exploring websites related to workshop content, watching online video clips, using specific technology applications, solving problems, and working on the final project.

Final Project
As a final project, participants will complete a unit plan for a writing assignment, including writing prompts and activities for both narrative and expository writing, a revision plan, and plans for student conferencing.

Participants are expected to work independently on the final project throughout the workshop and should submit a completed final project to the facilitator before the end of the final session of this workshop. A set of Final Project Guidelines is available as a resource for facilitators and participants.

Workshop Surveys
Participants are expected to complete an orientation survey before the end of Session One of the workshop, and a Final Survey during the final workshop session.