Methods for Teaching Langauge Arts

Week 1: Jumping into Writing Worskhop

Weekly Newsletters

We will use a newsletter each week to capture our collective learning over the course of the semester. I will model the first couple of newsletters, and then you will sign up for and be responsible for creating something similar one week of the course. You will invite classmates to email you short responses to one or two questions and then combine these responses into a digital form/text of some kind. The newsletter should be emailed to everyone in class by Sunday evening.
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Identifying & Collecting Our Learning

Insight We'll Take into our Classrooms


  • I really loved you giving us a broad topic (where are you from) and kind of letting us take it where we wanted. I think that's a really useful tool to use in the classroom for both those writers who need a topic and those who do not. (Chelsea)


  • Beginning Writer’s Workshop with students drawing pictures and labeling then before moving on to sentences. (Courtney)
  • I've been with younger ages only as Child Development Birth to Kindergarten undergraduate, so I've only observed writing in my student teaching kindergarten class. Usually they would just write about a picture that was taped up on the board, but I know they're capable of so much more. I think the mentor texts would be great to try with kindergarteners. They are at an age when examples are very helpful and this would guide them to do that creatively. (Kane)


  • I learned how helpful setting a timer can be for students during writing time. I think it will keep their heads in the game instead of wondering how much longer. Would it be bad to have it displayed in the corner of the screen so they can keep track of their time or would that just leave them counting down the seconds? (Megan R.)


  • I really liked how you utilized Goggle Docs and that program. I can think of a lot of different ways I could use both of these tools. I really enjoy modeling writing and using Google Docs definitely speeds up the process and cuts down on teacher time .(Shannon)


  • Today in class I learned about using different mentor texts to encourage different writing styles. I really liked the idea of passing out the sheet with different writing styles on it for us to pull ideas from. I think this would really benefit students who do not know where to start when writing, and students who are not as comfortable with a certain style of writing. I could see some students seeing the graphic novel excerpt and drawing a picture to get their ideas flowing. (Mary)
  • Something I learned today in class is that it is OK to copy the format of other texts when practicing writing. We did this today with the mentor texts. I will encourage this in my classroom as a way of learning, practicing, and growing as a writer. (Sara)
  • I learned that I could use a mentor text to teach my students how to write. The mentor text gets "the juices flowing" in the brain and starts the creative thinking. I would like to further learn how to use mentor texts in writing. (Mary Theresa)
  • One new thing that I learned from our class time was using books as models to introduce and support students in their writing. (Grace)


  • One thing we did in class that was new to me was “reading as a writer.” It’s different to think about the process the writer goes through when reading a text and to think about why the author wrote it in a specific way. I feel like this is something that could be helpful for students to analyze when learning to write so that they can put into practice some of what they notice authors do. (Mandy)
  • There are two ways to listen to writing. As a reader and as a writer. Listening to writing as a writer is very difficult to do, but can help us to become better writers. It is important to teach writing by using mentor texts. (Kaylyn)


  • One small thing I learned from tonight's class was to write while my students are writing and to help show them the writing process instead of just the finished product. Also thinking about helping them see that writing is never done and that they can continue to add to their writing. (Crystal)


  • Today I learned how important it can be for students to share writing out loud and I would really like to incorporate that into my future classroom. (Amanda K.)
  • I have never seen Writing Workshop structured with a time for students to share their work. That would add such a powerful component to the process. I will definitely use that with students in the future. (Rebecca)


  • Most people are EXTREMELY hard on themselves as writers. It is very important to try and only give positive feedback and support our students so that they are not afraid to express their thoughts through writing. (Kaylyn)
  • Today I learned that I am not actually a bad writer. When given something to look at as an example and when I am shown how to write something, I am actually a pretty decent writer. (Elizabeth)
  • Last night was the first time that I've written a poem in many years. I love teaching writing but haven't taught poetry for years so I'm already thinking of ways to incorporate short poems into my plans. (Jessica)


  • I learned/was reminded tonight that you do not have to accomplish everything you want to teach to your class (in particular-writing) in one lesson. Students, especially K-2 students, particularly need enough time to "cure" so to speak. I have been reminded that it is OK to start small so that students can eventually dive in deep with a concept. So, tomorrow I will teach my class basic writing etiquette and only introduce how to label a picture. (Megan)


  • I learned the format/structure for a Writer's Workshop. (Haley)
  • I loved how you explained to us the process of teaching writing by using a mini-lesson, independent writing time, and sharing time. I've never really thought much about actually teaching writing, so it made sense and I liked how you outlined it. I will definitely use that in my own future class! (Hayden)
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Our Burning Questions about Teaching Writing


  • How do you teach a child to be a writer or a better one? (Chelsea)


  • I would like to know more about how to grade/assess students on writing workshop. How can we as teachers make sure that what they are doing is recorded positively and can be shown on progress reports, but does not tear down budding writers? (Mary)


  • What are some ways to incorporate/integrate language arts in to other subjects like math, science, and social studies. I learned some of this as an undergrad, but I am interested to hear what ideas you have. (Sara)
  • I want to learn more about integrating writing into other areas; more so opinion writing and narrative writing.rather than informative. (Jordan)

Early Grades

  • I have lots of questions about teaching writing especially to 1st grade. I would love to get your input on what a class schedule might look like and how to get time to do writer's workshop for 1 hour each day. I would love to get tips on how to integrate reading and writing. It would also be helpful to get a list of minilessons that can be taught. Sometimes I forget that they just came out of kindergarten and that I need to start small and at the beginning and have minilessons for everything! So those weren't really questions but topics that I am interested in learning more. (Crystal)
  • What are some strategies that would help lower elementary students when they don’t know what to write about? (Mandy)
  • How do I teach writing informative texts to lower grades? (Mandy.)
  • How do you/can you incorporate wordless picture books into writing instruction (I am beginning a wordless picture unit in about a month and my class usually writes the words and takes a finished copy to the public library)? (Megan)
  • I would just like teaching writing ideas for the lower grades. I think it's easy to focus on only reading for those ages and I need to be able to give these children just as much guidance with writing. (Kane)

Upper Grades

  • Since I am thinking of teaching in the upper grades, possibly even 6th grade Language Arts, I’m interested in learning more about keeping students interested and motivated. (Hayley)

Grammar, Spelling & Punctuation

  • I'd love more info on teaching editing and grammar to 4th and 5th graders while still allowing them to freely write without fear of being corrected. (Jessica)
  • How often should you do "grammar" in 1st grade? (Megan)
  • I would really like to know more about teaching grammar in schools. That was something I picked up on early so I don't really remember being taught it much. I would always proofread my sister's and friend's work for them growing up and into college. But I haven't seen it taught and don't remember the process of learning it. So how does that fit into language arts education? (Hayden)
  • I have been told to tell students before and while they are writing that "spelling and grammar don't count" in order to further encourage them to get words on paper. Later on, the students would go back and revise these errors with teacher support. My question is, does there ever come a time when students should be held accountable for spelling and grammar on a first draft? (Grace)

Small Group Instruction

  • In regards to Language Arts, I would like to learn more about how to incorporate more of these skills into small pullout sessions that many of us Special Educators may face. (Amanda K.)
  • How could you implement writing workshop into small EC pullout groups that only meet for half an hour? (Kaylyn)
  • One thing I'd like to know is how would I incorporate language arts into a functional skills classroom so that my students would benefit from it in their daily lives? Especially if I am working with k-2? (Elizabeth)

Writing Workshop Structure & Routines

  • What are some ways to integrate writing, reading, spelling, etc? (Megan)
  • What are some accurate ways to confer with students? (Megan)
  • What is the best way to teach the process of writing to lower elementary students? I have always done a great deal of modeling, but I feel that I am missing a large piece of the puzzle. (Gayle)
  • I'm looking forward to finding texts to base mini-lessons around and on the overall topic of teaching students writing. Like you said, most of our schooling has been on reading diagnosis and correction. I think writing goes hand in hand with reading and should have equal importance. (Megan R.)
  • I would like some more specifics about classroom management and how you establish the routines for reading and writing workshop. (Shannon)
  • How do I organize my schedule to fit readers workshop and writers workshop into the day along with lesson planning for each every week? (Courtney)


  • As far as questions about language arts in general go; what do you think an appropriate/effective balance of reading and writing instruction looks like in a language arts classroom (i.e. how much time should be allotted for each, genre exposure, types of written products, etc.)? (Rebecca)
  • According to the Common Core, my students must write an opinion piece, narrative piece, and an informative piece. We also study poetry. What other genres do you suggest for elementary students? (Gayle)


  • What kind of parental advice can you give to the parents in your classroom? (Megan)

Writing Supports

  • Which, if any, graphic organizers are most effective for each type of formal writing? (Gayle)