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Writing AZ is a website offering a comprehensive collection of downloadable lessons and materials. The core lessons are grouped under five main writing genres: expository, narrative, persuasive, procedural, and transactional. Each genre category is further divided into a subset of text types with accompanying resources to teach each type. Lessons and materials are provided at four developmental levels to meet the needs of students at different writing stages, from beginning to fluent. In addition to the specific text type writing lessons and materials, the website houses a collection of mini-lessons on writing skills such as sentence and paragraph writing. There is also a collection of support resources to aid writing instruction, including writing prompts, wordless books, read-aloud books, rubrics, and writing samples.

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Writing A-Z White Paper
by Adria F. Klein, Ph.D

Why Teach Writing?

Writing is a major form of communication that allows people to interact with, and learn from, others. Instruction in writing helps students understand how to organize ideas and construct meaning, processes similar to those they use while reading. In fact, research indicates that writing and reading develop together (Egawa, 2001; Cooper, 1991), and instruction in both areas leads to improvements in both writing and reading (Tierney and Shanahan, 1991).

Writers develop their ability to write in a particular genre through opportunities to both read and write in that genre (Egawa, 2001). Further, a student's early explorations of print are an indication of what he or she attends to in reading and writing (Clay, 1991).

Best Practices in Writing Instruction

Research indicates that students should have the opportunity to write daily (Graves, 1983), and it is recommended that writing occur 35 to 40 minutes daily for at least four days a week (Graves, 1991). Since a wide range of writing abilities can exist within one age group, it is important to determine and build upon a student's individual strengths, not expecting each student to take the same steps while developing as a writer (Clay, 1991).

Process writing is one approach to writing instruction in which modeling and guidance are provided to students at each step, allowing them to become independent writers. These steps include: prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish. While creating compositions, writers develop their ideas, make sense of them, and then make changes (Egawa, 2001). They interact between steps of the writing process at the same time, rather than in sequence. These interactions are then repeated (Fearn, 2001).

Providing support at each step of the writing process also helps students avoid developing misconceptions about writing, as well as create a positive attitude about writing. This positive writing attitude is fostered through opportunities for students to see teachers write, be a partner in learning, make their own decisions about the topics of their writing, and have authentic reasons to write (Cooper, 1991).

Writing AZ Correlation

Genre lesson units:

Skills lessons: Provide brief instruction and extra support to strengthen students' writing skills as needed.

Genre lesson materials/Writing tools: Samples, rubrics, revision checklists, graphic organizers, book connections are provided at multiple developmental levels to meet the needs of individual students.

RAZ book connection: Read-aloud books that provide opportunities for students to listen to models of each genre text type.

Writing prompts and Wordless books: Provide an authentic context for students to create stories based on their topics.

Research Bibliography

Cooper, J. D. (1997). Literacy: Helping children construct meaning (3rd ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Clay, M. (1991). Becoming Literate: The construction of inner control. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Egawa, K. (2001). Writing in the middle grades. Language Arts, (78) 3.

Fearn, L. (2001). Interactions: Teaching writing and the language arts. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Graves, D. H. (1983). Writing: Teachers and children at work. Exeter, NH: Heinemann.

Graves, D. H. (1991). Build a literate classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Tierney, R. J., & Shanahan, T. (1991). Research on the reading-writing relationship: Interactions, transactions, and outcomes. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (Vol. 2, pp. 246-280). New York: Longman.