Chat with us, powered by LiveChat After reading the chapters, article, and watching the Teaching Channel videos, think about how these | Max paper

After reading the chapters, article, and watching the Teaching Channel videos, think about how these sources of information are related. Then, submit a synthesis (merging of the big idea(s)) to the discussion board. This should help you comprehend the information as well as see the overall ‘big picture’ presented in the module. Be careful not to summarize each source, instead merge the information and ideas into a central theme. Think about how this information will be useful to you as a classroom teacher. 

For full credit, please see the following rubric: 

Synthesis Rubric:

____/50   500word min.

Specific named examples from all areas of reading for that module:

_____/15 Textbook chapter (specific quoted information “On pg. 38 of Chapter 2, the text describes….”) 

_____/20 Video (specific examples, “In the video, Ms. Noonan….”

_____/15 Research article (specific examples “In Moats article,….”

Here are some videos:

I have uploaded articles and chapter 6 from the textbook. Please follow the rubric posted for the assignment.

Teaching Writing!
CIR 306- Dr. Tingle

Career Readiness
 Many/most people make a living writing and/or speaking.

 How many students will make a living writing and speaking? How do we
prepare them for their chosen career?

 “Despite the importance of writing in and out of the classroom, data from the
National Center for Education Statistics (2012) show that a majority of
students in the United States have not mastered the skills necessary for
proficient or grade-level- appropriate writing.” (Gillespie, Olinghouse, &
Graham, 2013)

 Though the demands for proficient writing in academic and workplace
contexts are great, we are not doing a good job as a nation of helping
students meet these demands (National Center for Education Statistics
(NCES, 2012; NCWAFSC, 2003, 2004; Salahu-Din, Persky, & Miller, 2008)
(Troia & Graham, 2016)

Why is teaching writing so difficult?
 Writing is the most difficult of all language skills!

 In 2011, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that only 27%
of assessed students performed at or above the proficient level in writing (National Center
for Education Statistics, 2012) continuing a trend of severely low performance from
previous years. Prior to 2011, 25-30% of students scored proficient on the annual NAEP
writing assessment (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012).

 “Currently our practices in the classroom are creating inequities for our students.”
(Wierzbicki et al., 2018)

 Writing is an extremely complex skill. It is a goal-directed and self-sustained cognitive
activity requiring the skillful management of the writing environment; the constraints
imposed by the writing topic; the intentions of the writer(s); and the processes, knowledge,
and skills involved in composing (Zimmerman & Risemberg, 1997).

 According to the CCSS, students are expected to learn how to write for multiple purposes
(e.g., to narrate, to inform, to persuade) and use writing to recall, organize, analyze,
interpret, and build knowledge (Graham & Harris, 2013).

Why is teaching writing so difficult?
 Writing is complex because it involves the use and coordination of numerous
cognitive processes that engage several sub-processes, for example, topic
selection, planning, accessing prior knowledge, generating ideas, rehearsing,
attending to spelling and handwriting, reading, organizing, editing, and
revising (Chapman, 2006).

 While it is fundamental, it is really hard. It is not only challenging for students
but can be a stressful endeavor for teachers to effectively teach and
facilitate writing in the classroom.” (Wierzbicki et al., 2018)

Why is teaching writing so difficult?
 What are the attitudes that teachers have about teaching writing?

 Graham (as cited in Zumbrunn & Krause, 2012) stated, “The more prepared our
teachers are, the more efficacious they are, the more likely they are to have
students write and spend time teaching writing” (p. 348).

Do teachers know how to teach writing? Do they have professional development that
helps them become better teachers of writing? Are they themselves writers?

 “For the most part the researchers in the field acknowledge and identify the
phenomenon, however, they do not provide tools for teachers or teacher
educators to make change in this area.”(Wierzbicki et al., 2018)

Why is teaching writing so difficult?
Developmental disorders:

 Dyslexia (or reading disability)

 spelling disability (dysgraphia)

 oral and written language disorders (SLP students)

 students who have ADD/ADHD (also have trouble spelling, forming letters, getting
thoughts on page- writing requires a lot of focus, persistence, planning!)

 hearing impairment

 motor impairment

 instructional casualties!

Remember the Simple View of Reading- SVR

Simple View of Writing?
If you had to create a Simple View of Writing, what would

it look like?


Simple View of Writing- Louisa Moats

Lower Level
Writing Skills-


Higher Level
Writing Skills-



Mental Control/Working Memory
Overlay in both areas

Simple View of Writing- Louisa Moats
 Simple View of Writing (similar to the Simple View of Reading) says that
students need to develop/ master lower level writing skills as well as higher
level writing skills to be a competent writer.

 Higher level writing skills- Using story structure or information text structure,
selecting a topic, choosing format, adding or deleting info, varying sentences,
audience awareness, remembering the plan, etc.

 Lower level writing skills- forming the letters (handwriting), spelling,
capitalizing, punctuation, monitoring noun/verb, using standard
English/grammar, editing, proofreading, etc.

Lower Level
Writing Skills-


Higher Level
Writing Skills-



Mental Control/Working Memory
Overlay in both areas

Language Dependent

 Both low and high level skills are Language Dependent!

Sentences (syntax), phonology, orthography,
pragmatics, discourse structure, semantics,
morphology. Handwriting is only exception because of
its motor component but that also gets wired in to the
process because it’s tied into language.


 Lack of foundation writing skills in transcription
and or text generation

 Common core standards address only the
higher order language processing skills.
However, teachers must focus on lower level
transcription skills.

 ‘Can’t put cart before horse’ lower level skills
have to be developed, supported by
researchers, and taught to students.

Writing standards
 CCR standards as written are lacking a foundational skills that provide
direction for explicit teaching of writing skills. A teacher would have to have
the background knowledge and be familiar with reading and writing research
to ‘unpack’ the standards. To the contrary, reading standards have
foundational skills that can be followed for explicit teaching of reading skills.
(Moats, 2011-Utah Sped Consortium)

 “Nearly one in five teachers we surveyed reported that they were not very
familiar with the CCSS-WL and professional development efforts apparently
have been lacking if so many teachers do not possess a working knowledge
of the writing standards, the first step to successful implementation.” (Troia &
Graham, 2016)

Recursive- Cognitive Process Model

 The recursive-cognitive process model. Based on the work of
Emig, Flowers, Hayes, Britton, and others, this model argues that
the writing process is recursive (stages are constantly re-visited)
and that it is rooted in the psychological environment of the
writer, as well as the communication situation at hand. While
adopting the basic tripartite structure of the stage-model theory
(planning, translating [drafting], reviewing [revising]), this model
places that structure in the context of the rhetorical situation
and the memory and thinking patterns of the writer.


Recursive Model
 Three Recursive- writing is a cognitive skill that requires a cognitive Juggling
act!! Involves 3 phases:

 Planning- have to know where you are going

 Translating- getting words into written form- symbols into a readable form

 Reviewing/revising- spelling, work on sentences, wrong direction, etc.

 They are not sequentiall!! They involve rapid circular interaction as we
compose- we know this from 1980 study of what college freshman were doing
when they were reading and writing. Through talking out loud during writing
an essay, the researchers analyzed the thought processes into the categories

 This research study was a shift from behavioral perspective and the first in
it’s kind.

 (Hayes & Flowers, 1980)

Recursive model-expanded
 Virginia Berninger- Researcher, from The University of Washington, studied
writing and Dissected the parts of that model- each of the 3 components
have sub components that can be measured and evaluated. She also
authored book- Teaching Students with Dysgraphia.

 1. Planning-

 Generate ideas! Have to have ideas

 Setting goals- what kind of paper am I going to write, who is going to read, what is
the purpose, length,

 Ideas have to be organized- genres?, letter to editor?

Recursive model-expanded

 2.Translation-

 a. putting words to ideas- text generation- many have
problems here- getting words to ideas-come up with the
language- vocabulary and the semantic generation!

 b. transcription- symbolization-process of taking words and
putting into symbolic form-

 students who have high verbal capacity/oral expression need
to rehearse with them because translation is difficult. Need to
talk things out, need graphic organizer, etc.

Recursive model-expanded

3. Review/Revising

 Reading from the reader’s perspective- Is the message
complete? Is it logically written with conventional
symbols and grammar?

 Revising and editing- did I say what I wanted to say?
Did I reach my audience? Conventions? Interest?

 With review/revising- continuous improvement as
students write. Students will pause, rewrite, change
wording, etc.

Why is teaching writing so difficult?

All teachers need instruction on HOW to
teach writing! A consistent approach for

sped and regular classroom.

Most students are struggling writers (75%
according to NCES, 2012)!

Teachers need systematic methodology
and tools for teaching!!

Lower Level skills-

How can handwriting & spelling support writing?

How Can Teaching Handwriting Support
Writing Instruction?

 “Both legible letter writing and automatic letter writing contribute uniquely to
amount and quality of written composition in grades 1-6.” (Berninger & Wolff,

 Once lower level writing skills are automatized, a student’s cognitive desk
space is able to focus on higher level writing skills- Louisa Moats

 “Handwriting fluency is causally related to writing.” (Graham, Harris, & Fink ,

 “Transcription skills demand more effort or attention in children than adults,
and limit their ability to think about and organize written output .”
(McCutchen, 1996)

 Spelling, handwriting, language and composition are interdependent!

Poor writers are limited by spelling, handwriting, and working memory
problems in all grades.

Handwriting problems affect both fluency and quality of writing

Spelling problems affect the quality and quantity of what is written

Better spelling is associated with better writing

Command of the sentence underlies command of text organization

Gary Troia, author and educational researcher, says teachers need to divide
their time teaching foundational skills and time to focus on composition.

 It is much harder to fix a struggling speller than it is a struggling reader. With
reading, instruction is explicit and systematically taught. Spelling has not
been as systematic.

 How to provide relief for poor spellers (so that writing doesn’t suffer):

 Grading content and spelling separately

 Allow personal spelling dictionary

 Provide proofreading, reminders, etc

 Provide ‘best’ written products

Remember, technology is not always to answer…Students need to be on at least a
5th grade reading level to use spell checker accurately!! (homophones, etc.)

5 Principles of Spelling:
 1. Language of origin- the language from which a word came into English,, as
well as its history, often explains the word’s spelling (

 2. Phoneme-grapheme correspondences- Phoneme-grapheme correspondences
are the mappings between speech sounds and letter groups. A grapheme is a
unit that spells the grapheme.

 3. The position of a phoneme or a grapheme in a word- the position of a
phoneme or grapheme refers to whether it is at the beginning, middle, or end of
a syllable and what sounds (or letters) come before or after it. Position of
sounds and letters often determine what letters are used from spelling.

 4. Letter order and sequence patterns, or orthographic conventions- over the
past few centuries, scribes and dictionary writers put constrains on how we are
allowed to use letters. In addition, there are syllable-spelling conventions, and
syllables can be classified into 6 regular types.

 5. Meaning (morphology) and part of speech- English is morphomenic! A deep
orthography like English represents both sound and meaning.

 Handwriting is an important component of lower level writing skills.

 Writing is the product of

 lower level transcription skills and higher level language processing with an overlay
of the mental control processes.

 Students cannot be good writers unless they have command over all of these

 Students need well developed lower and higher level and control over mental
control processes to be a good writer!!!

Poor Writer’s Characteristics- Berninger, 2009

 Primary and significant problems with transcription (spelling, handwriting,

 General language deficiencies

 Limitations of working memory- difficulty planning, organizing, retrieving,
sorting, ‘juggling many balls at once’

 Struggling writer- problems in one or many areas

 “Transcription and working memory explain much of the variance in
composition quality and fluency at the intermediate level”. (McCutchen,

 Transcription skills demand more effort or attention in children than adults,
and limit their ability to think about and organize written output (McCutchen,

 Lower-order transcription skills underlie higher order text generation in K
(Puranic & Aiotaiba, 2012)

 Just like with reading, if they struggle with every single word comprehension
suffers. If students struggle with lower level writing skills, such as
handwriting, their composition suffers!! (Louisa Moats)


 Just like with reading, if students struggle with every single word
comprehension suffers. With Writing, if they struggle
handwriting and spelling every single word, composition suffers.

 Advantage to teaching students handwriting and cursive- goes
from left to right and builds fluency with reading and writing!

 So, similar to reading fluency, handwriting and whole word
writing fluency, through competent letter formation and
handwriting, leads to improved compositions.

Big Ideas suggested by Louisa Moats
 Through handwriting, or written communication, writing/composition can

 Big Ideas: Teach foundational skills (lower level transcription skills), language
processing skills (higher level skills) and composition!

 Teach handwriting, keyboarding, spelling, grammar and usage, and
sentence construction explicitly and systematically!

 Divide instructional time between lower level and higher level skills!

 Do not wait to teach composition: sentence, paragraphs and multi
paragraph compositions! Begin teaching early and use organizers!

Higher Level Skills
Language Processing

Simple View of Writing- Louisa Moats

Lower Level
Writing Skills-


Higher Level
Writing Skills-



Mental Control/Working Memory
Overlay in both areas

Looking at Writing

 Kindergarten- Kindergarteners are often enthusiastic writers and they will
weave writing activities into their play. Provide budding writers with
experiences that give them something to write about. Invented spelling is
normal at this age, as children are translating the sounds of spoken words
into writing. Children at this age can read their own writing and should be
encouraged to read aloud!

 Print own first and last name

 Draw a picture that tells a story and label or write about the picture

 Write upper- and lowercase letters (may not be clearly written)

Looking at Writing: Strategies for K

 Alphabet matching- Very young learners are developing their understanding of the
alphabetic principle — the understanding that there are systematic and predictable
relationships between written letters and spoken sounds. Teachers can help students
develop this understanding through lots of fun activities that help students explore the
alphabet letters and sounds.

 Concept sorts- A concept sort is a vocabulary and comprehension strategy used to
familiarize students with the vocabulary of a new topic or book. Teachers provide students
with a list of terms or concepts from reading material. Students place words into different
categories based on each word’s meaning. Categories can be defined by the teacher or by
the students. When used before reading, concept sorts provide an opportunity for a
teacher to see what his or her students already know about the given content. When used
after reading, teachers can assess their students’ understanding of the concepts

 Concept of word- Concept of word refers to the ability of a reader to match spoken words
to written words while reading. Students with a concept of word understand that each
word is separate, and that words are separated by a space within each sentence. Using
strategies to build concept of word in the classroom can also strengthen a child’s
developing awareness of the individual sounds within words.

 Rhyming games- Rhyme is found in poetry, songs, and many children’s books and games.
Most children also love to sing and recite nursery rhymes. Words that can be grouped
together by a common sound, for example the “-at” family — cat, hat, and sat — can be
used to teach children about similar spellings. Children can use these rhyme families when
learning to read and spell.

K Writing Samples
 Follow the link to view the 5 samples of writing. (Samples located on the left
side menu)


Looking at Writing

 First graders write many times a day to express their ideas and interests —
they are writing with a purpose, through, stories, letters, and lists.

 They can:

 print clearly and leave spaces between words

 able to write simple but complete sentences

 beginning to understand when to use capital letters, commas, and periods

 begin to use “story language” in their own writing, for example, incorporating
phrases such as “once upon a time” and “happily ever after”

In their writing, you’ll see a combination of invented and correct spelling (especially
words from a word wall or vocabulary list).

Looking at Writing: Strategies for 1st grade

 Story maps- A story map is a strategy that uses a graphic organizer to help
students learn the elements of a book or story. By identifying story
characters, plot, setting, problem and solution, students read carefully to
learn the details. There are many different types of story map graphic
organizers. The most basic focus on the beginning, middle, and end of the
story. More advanced organizers focus more on plot or character traits.

 Prewriting questions – templates that contain questions such as Who? What?
When? Where? How? Why?

 Teaching about story structure using fairy tales: beginning, middle, and
ending chart with beginning “Once Upon a Time” and ending with “They lived
happily ever after.” The middle chart contains sequence words such as “first,
then, next, after that, and finally”.

1st Writing Samples
 Follow the link to view the 5 samples of writing. (Samples located on the left
side menu)


Looking at Writing

 Second graders are polishing a wide range of basic writing skills, including
writing legibly, using capitalization and punctuation correctly (most of the
time!), and moving from invented spelling to more accurate spelling. For
most, handwriting becomes automatic, so they can concentrate more on the
content of their writing rather than on the mechanics.

 Second graders can:

 organize their writing to include a beginning, middle, and end

 write a simple essay with a title and introductory sentence, provide examples and
details that support their main concept, and write a concluding sentence.

Looking at Writing: Strategies for 2nd grade

 Story maps- same as first grade templates or can use advanced templates

 Word maps- A word map is a visual organizer that promotes vocabulary
development. Using a graphic organizer, students think about terms or
concepts in several ways. Most word map organizers engage students in
developing a definition, synonyms, antonyms, and a picture for a given
vocabulary word or concept. Enhancing students’ vocabulary is important to
developing their reading comprehension.

2nd Writing Samples
 Follow the link to view the 5 samples of writing. (Samples located on the left
side menu)


Looking at Writing

 Third graders begin to really flex their “idea” muscles and learning to express
those ideas in more sophisticated ways.

 Third grade writers:

 Sentences are getting longer and more complex

 Use a dictionary to correct their own spelling

 Grammar improves; for example, you’ll see appropriate punctuation, contractions,
and correct subject-verb agreement.

 Can write an essay with a simple thesis statement, examples and supporting
details, and a thoughtful concluding sentence.

 Are building skills in the writing process — research, planning, organizing, revising,
and editing (with help from teachers and peers).

Looking at Writing: Strategies for 3rd grade

 Paragraph hamburger- The “paragraph hamburger” is a writing organizer that
visually outlines the key components of a paragraph. Topic sentence, detail
sentences, and a closing sentence are the main elements of a good
paragraph, and each one forms a different “piece” of the hamburger.

 Paragraph shrinking- Paragraph shrinking is an activity developed as part of
the Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS). The paragraph shrinking
strategy allows each student to take turns reading, pausing, and summarizing
the main points of each paragraph. Students provide each other with
feedback as a way to monitor comprehension.

 Writing conferences- Research on the writing process suggests that writers
learn the most about writing when they share and reflect on their writing. In
classrooms, this is most commonly done through writing conferences as part
of the revision stage. Whether they occur with pairs, with small groups, or
with the teacher, the social benefits of sharing writing improves writing.

3rd Writing Samples
 Follow the link to view the 5 samples of writing. (Samples located on the left
side menu)


Recursive Model
 1. Planning-

 Generate ideas!

 Setting goals- what kind of paper am I going to write, who is going to read, what is the purpose, length?

 Ideas have to be organized- genres?, letter to editor?

 2.Translation-

 a. putting words to ideas- text generation- using language- vocabulary and the semantics!

 b. transcription- symbolization-process of taking words and putting into symbolic form

 graphic organizers

3. Review/Revising

 Reading from the reader’s perspective- Is the message complete? Is it logically written with conventional
symbols and grammar?

 Revising and editing- did I say what I wanted to say? Did I reach my audience? Conventions? Interest?

 With review/revising- continuous improvement as students write. Students will pause, rewrite, change wording,

Recursive Model and The Writing Process

Step 1

Step 1-

Step 2

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3


Step 4

Step 5

The Writing Process

 The writing process involves teaching students to write in a variety of genres,
encouraging creativity, and incorporating writing conventions. This process
can be used in all areas of the curriculum and provides an excellent way to
connect instruction with state writing standards.

 This differs from the recursive method because it shows the writing process
to be more linear.

The Writing Process- Step 1

 The following are ways to implement each step of the writing process:

 Prewriting—This step involves brainstorming, considering purpose and goals for
writing, using graphic organizers to connect ideas, and designing a coherent
structure for a writing piece. For kindergarten students, scribbling and invented
spelling are legitimate stages of writing development; the role of drawing as a
prewriting tool becomes progressively less important as writers develop. Have
young students engage in whole-class brainstorming to decide topics on which
to write. For students in grades 3-5, have them brainstorm individually or in
small groups with a specific prompt, such as, “Make a list of important people in
your life,” for example. Online graphic organizers might help upper elementary
students to organize their ideas for specific writing genres during the prewriting
stage. Examples are the Essay Map, Notetaker, or Persuasion Map.

The Writing Process- Step 2

 Drafting—Have students work independently at this …


Chapter 1:

“Nothing, absolutely nothing you will ever do as a teacher
will be more powerful than modeling writing in

front of your students.”

— Vicki Spandel

Years ago, I decided to learn to knit. So I did what any self-respecting
would-be knitter does—I marched myself down to my local library and
checked out a book that promised to make me a knitter by Chapter 3.

With needles and yarn in hand, I perused the pages and carefully
studied the illustrations and diagrams, and yet I quickly discovered that,
in this case, a picture was not worth a thousand words. I simply could
not make my fingers and yarn look like the ones shown on page 2. I
could see the picture of the needle going through the small hole but,
try as I may, I could not “cast on.” It didn’t take me long to realize that
the words and pictures in this book (or any book) couldn’t teach me
all that I needed to know in order to knit. I needed someone to show
me how.

I phoned Grandma Wilson, my husband’s grandmother, and asked if
she’d kindly clear her social calendar and teach me to knit. After my
repeated promises of copious quantities of chocolate as payment,
she gladly obliged.

On a sunny Saturday morning, we gathered our materials and made
ourselves comfortable on the couch. Grandma began by asking me to
simply watch her. She showed me how she tied a slipknot, and then
she cast the first few stitches. I watched. I listened. I tried it on my own.
Several times throughout the morning, Grandma placed her hands over
mine and guided them as I attempted a stitch. Then she released me
to try it on my own. Each time I would mangle my yarn into an
unmanageable mess, she would softly say, “Okay, let’s see what we’ve
got here,” quietly unravel the knots, and ask me to watch her again.



After a few more Saturdays (and heaps more chocolate), I was starting
to get the hang of it. I was knitting. Pretty much. (Okay, in truth, I
learned enough to make several scarves that I gave as gifts and my
family wore for a few days as a show of support and immense kindness,
but you get the point.)

Years later, I realized that Grandma Wilson had done what many
effective teachers do: She had modeled the task. She had explicitly
demonstrated and shown me what a proficient knitter is thinking and
doing when she knits. Those mornings with Grandma Wilson were
worth much more than anything I could have learned from a book.

If you think about it, modeling plays an important role in how the
human brain learns almost anything. Infants and toddlers watch their
caregivers walk, talk, and eat with a spoon. Piano students notice and
note the way the instructor’s hands are placed on the keys when playing
scales. Tennis players watch and listen as the coach demonstrates how
to serve the ball. Student teachers observe a master teacher before
teaching lessons on their own.

Collins, Brown, and Newman (1989) call this cognitive apprenticeship.
Through this apprenticeship, processes that are usually carried out
internally (i.e., reading, playing piano, driving, etc.) are externalized
so the learner can see how an expert completes the task.

Modeling is said to be one of the most effective of all teaching
strategies (Pearson and Fielding, 1991). This is especially true when
it comes to writing. Research has consistently found that teachers
who engage in writing experiences themselves can connect more
authentically with students during the writing process (Cremin, 2006;
Kaplan, 2008). Fisher and Frey (2003) found that writing fluency
improved significantly when teachers modeled their own writing.

In 2012, Sharon Zumbrunn and Keegan Krause wrote an article that
appeared in The Reading Teacher. In the article, seven leading
authorities in the field of writing were interviewed and asked to share
their beliefs about effective writing instruction. Zumbrunn and Krause
wrote, “…(leaders) stressed that writing teachers need to be writers
themselves and, as Thomas Newkirk said, ‘know from the inside out
what writing is like.’”



In the same article, Jerome Harste (2012) recommended the following:
“If I were to give a tip to teachers, I’d tell them to take out a sheet of
paper and start writing. I’d also tell them to share what they write with
students. I think we (as teachers) provide the type of demonstration
that students need to see and be around. There’s power in making
yourself as vulnerable as the students you’re teaching.”

The Common Core State Standards, or CCSS (2010), and most state
standards require high-quality research and writing from even the
youngest of children. These standards ask writers at every grade level
to create pieces of narrative, informative or explanatory, and opinion
writing in order to be prepared for the kinds of writing we do as
lifelong writers.

As I read the CCSS, I notice one phrase that appears over and over:
“with guidance and support from adults.” For example, one of the
standards for kindergarten states, “With guidance and support from
adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from
provided sources to answer a question” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.8).
In fifth grade, one of the standards reads, “With guidance and support
from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by
planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach” (CCSS.

It’s clear, isn’t it? If we want kindergartners to gather information from
resources, it’s imperative that teachers show them how. Likewise, if fifth
graders are going to dig into the courageous and sometimes difficult
work of planning, editing, and revising, they must have the opportunity
to tune in and notice the things that other writers do when they plan,
edit, and revise.

As writing teachers, we often neglect the powerful strategy of
modeling in our classrooms. We use mentor texts as a way to examine
what other authors do in their writing, but we rarely demonstrate our
own thinking and processes. Donald Graves (2013), a longtime advocate
for modeled writing, said “Students can go a lifetime and never see
another person write, much less show them how to write. Yet, it would
be unheard of for an artist to not show her students how to use oils by
painting on her own canvas, or for a ceramist not to demonstrate how
to throw clay on a wheel and shape the material himself.”

If we want kindergartners

to gather information from

resources, it’s imperative

that teachers show them
how. Likewise, if fifth

graders are going to dig

into the courageous and

sometimes difficult work

of planning, editing, and

revising, they must have

the opportunity to tune in

and notice the things that

other writers do when

they plan, edit, and revise.



So what if we crafted a piece of writing in front of our students, showing
them how a proficient writer thinks and what a proficient writer does?
What if we gave students a window into our thinking and allowed them
to see the reality and messiness of our own writing process? What if we
made ourselves vulnerable and took risks as writers—and what if we
did that in front of our students?

I believe there is immense power in giving students a peek into the
mind and processes of another writer. In fact, I believe that modeled
writing could be called “a 10-minute makeover” for the classroom. If,
every day, we took five to 10 minutes to model our own thinking and
writing before asking students to write, we could transform our
students into successful writers.

An anchor chart that we made for a mini-lesson or a list of writing
features projected on an interactive whiteboard simply cannot take the
place of an authentic piece of writing that is crafted on the spot. When
I model, I’m showing students what
I do before I write, while I’m writing,
and when I finish a piece of writing.

Modeling also strengthens our
students’ knowledge of:

• writing behaviors,

• different types of text,

• the writing process,

• story structures,

• how writing helps us and
enriches our everyday life, and

• the vocabulary that writers
use to talk about writing.

If, every day, we took

five to 10 minutes to

model our own thinking

and writing before

asking students to write,

we could transform

our students into

successful writers.



A Few Clarifications about Writing Instruction

Before we continue, allow me to make a few clarifications. In my
workshops with teachers, I notice there is some confusion about what
modeled writing is. Many teachers confuse modeled writing with other
kinds of writing instruction found in classrooms. So let me begin by
first explaining the difference between modeled writing and other
writing experiences.

Modeled writing should not be confused with shared writing. A shared
writing experience invites students to collaborate with the teacher to
create a piece of writing. In a shared writing experience, the teacher
holds the pen, but students jump in, give suggestions, and interact
with the teacher as he or she writes.

Modeled writing also differs from interactive writing. In an interactive
writing experience, teachers and students work together to decide
what words, phrases, and sentences should be included in the piece,
but now individual students are holding the pen and doing the
actual drafting.

Shared writing and interactive writing are both effective scaffolds that
support student writers, and they have a place in the writing classroom.
Both experiences provide an opportunity to share ideas, collaborate,
and create a piece of strong writing by working with other writers.
Shared writing and interactive writing make it possible for all students
to create a high-quality piece while raising the expectation for what is
possible. Although shared writing and interactive writing help promote
writing, I believe that the real transformation in our writing classrooms
occurs when teachers engage in modeled writing.

Modeled writing is unique in that the teacher is doing all or most of
the thinking and talking and all of the writing. In a modeled writing
experience, students are invited to tune in and notice the things
that the writer is doing, but they don’t offer suggestions or ideas
for improving the piece. Instead, students listen and observe as
the teacher plans, makes choices, researches, drafts, rereads, edits,
evaluates, or revises. The teacher makes his or her thinking transparent
while students observe. (See Fig. 1.1.)



Fig 1.1

Teacher Students
Example of

teacher language


Asks for ideas
and suggestions
from students

Holds the pen and does
the actual writing

Writes, stops, and rereads
often to see how the
writing sounds

Share ideas and
suggestions for what
should be written

Reread to see how the
piece sounds

What do we think about
this lead?

Who has an idea about
how we could start
this piece?


Guides students as they
think of words, phrases,
or sentences to add to a
piece of writing

Supports individual
students as they add to
the piece of writing

Suggest words, phrases,
or sentences that can be
added to the piece

Hold the pen and do the
actual writing

Reread to see how the
piece sounds

So we agreed that we
wanted to add this
sentence here, “Bears are
excellent climbers.” Who
would like to come up
and add that sentence to
our piece?


Thinks aloud

Writes a portion of
a piece

Stops to reread and
sometimes revises
while drafting

Does all or most of
the talking

Watch and listen

Notice what the teacher is
thinking and doing as he
or she writes

I want to speak directly to
my reader here to add a
little voice and interest to
my writing. I’m thinking I
could write….

Or I could write….

I like the way my first idea
sounded. Watch me as I
add that to my writing.



Blaze the Trail

My husband and I both love to hike, and we’d love nothing better than
to pass this love of the outdoors on to our two young sons. So several
times each summer, we pack enough snacks to feed a small village and
head for the hills.

When we hike as a family, my husband is usually assigned to “blaze the
trail.” He goes ahead of us and we trod behind. As he hikes, he will
often look back at us and say, “Hey, watch your step on this rock. It’s
slippery,” or “Step over this log like this.”

Our rationale is that if the boys watch my husband explore the trail first
and learn from what he is encountering, it will help them to navigate the
trail more successfully and actually increase their love of hiking. In short,
it allows my husband to experience the trail first as a hiker and then as
a guide.

What if we approached the teaching of writing with the same principle?
What if we were willing to “blaze the trail” by experiencing writing tasks
first as a writer and then as a guide? When we model our own thinking
and writing for students, we are doing just that. We are saying: I know
what the path before you is like. I’ve been there. Let me help you by
sharing what I’ve discovered.

In order to see what this looks like in the classroom, let’s examine two
variations of the same writing task.

Teacher A gives students an assignment. Students are asked to create
a travel brochure about a state of their choosing. She makes a list of
features that must be included in each travel brochure and explains that
students will start by researching and collecting important facts about
their states. She points out the basket of books that they can use when
gathering their facts and reminds them to write down facts in their own
words rather than simply copying the facts that they find in the book.

Teacher B explains that over the next few weeks, everyone will be
researching and creating a travel brochure about a state. He passes out
several travel brochures that he has collected from a local travel agency
and asks partners to think about and answer the question: What makes
a good brochure?



As he listens to several pairs share, he creates a chart called “Qualities
of a Good Travel Brochure.” He and his students work together to
create a list of features (colorful photographs, lists of attractions, a
section about the weather, etc.).

After each student has chosen the state that he or she will write about,
Teacher B chooses a state that has not been selected by anyone else.
Over the next few days, before students began researching, Teacher B
takes 10 minutes to show the students how he reads a short section of
text and then jots down words or phrases to capture important facts
about his state. Once he’s collected several facts, he thinks out loud
and explicitly demonstrates how he uses the words and phrases to
create interesting and inviting sentences to include in his travel brochure.

I predict that the students in Teacher A’s classroom will struggle.
Without explicit teaching and modeling about how to read, research,
and write, many students will simply do what they’ve always done—
copy facts from the resources provided. The readers and writers in
Teacher A’s classroom will likely become confused over the process and
might simply give up and look for something more interesting to do.
Those who do complete a brochure likely won’t match Teacher A’s
expectations. Teacher A assigned a writing task, but she didn’t teach
students how to engage in the reading and writing processes necessary
for the task.

On the other hand, I predict that the students in Teacher B’s classroom
will jump right in and experience success! The students in this classroom
have been given the opportunity to examine the kind of information
that is included in a quality travel brochure. The teacher has explicitly
modeled how to locate information, read, take notes, and then turn
those notes into running text. They’ve seen how an adult reader, writer,
and thinker approaches the work. Teacher B hasn’t simply assigned a
writing task; he has shown students how to engage with the resources
to create high-quality work.

It’s clear, isn’t it? Before we ask students to do something, we should
be willing to do it first. So before we ask our students to create a
persuasive poster that teaches others about the importance of daily
exercise, we should demonstrate how we would create a poster on a
similar topic, such as eating more fruits and vegetables. If our student
writers are going to be crafting a book review on one of their favorite
books, we should show them how we write one using one of our

Without explicit teaching

and modeling about how
to read, research, and

write, many students

will simply do what

they’ve always done—

copy facts from the

resources provided.



favorite books. These explicit demonstrations allow students to see
how another writer completes the task. They also help students see
what’s possible in their own writing. We blaze the trail and invite them
to come join us!

The bottom line is this: As writing instructors, it’s imperative that we
write. Think about it. If you want your child to learn ballet, you wouldn’t
sign him or her up for lessons taught by someone who doesn’t dance.
There’s a reason why a swim instructor wears a bathing suit and is in the
water. Learning to write (like learning to dance, swim, or knit) happens
best when someone comes alongside us and shows us how it’s done.

Throughout the next eight chapters, you’ll find tips, sample models,
tools, and stories from the classroom to help you unleash the power of
modeled writing in your classroom. I’ll serve as your guide as I share the
triumphs and the tribulations from my own journey as a teacher of
writing. Sprinkled throughout the book, you’ll find a plethora of
examples of teacher language that you can use as you make your own
thinking and writing visible to your students. In Chapter 7, I’ve created
several sample mini-lessons that can be used “as is” or tweaked to
match the needs of the learners in your classroom. Finally, in the
Appendix, you’ll find reproducible templates that will help you as you
plan for modeled writing and work with student writers.

As you read this book, I hope you’ll feel a nudge to begin the daily
practice of thinking and writing out loud in front of your students. I
think you’ll find it’s a powerful way to transform your writing classroom
and give your student writers the tools and the confidence that they
need to soar!


Mentor Sentence


Mentor Sentences are well-written sentences that show off author’s craft from books or passages that are read in the classroom.

They are chosen based on style, language, organization, and conventions.

There are many ways to use Mentor Sentences

It is important to note that you should not be using these sentences in isolation from the text. In other words, the text the sentence comes from should part of your reading lessons for the week. This helps from become familiar with the author and the context of the sentence.

What are Mentor Sentences?

How to use them?

Mentor Sentences are a wonderful way to show students how writing should look, as opposed to some programs that fill a sentence with mistakes for the students to find (DOL books).

The idea behind mentor sentences is that students will notice all the good things about a sentence and use those techniques in their writing.

It is also a great way to present grammar in a spiral method.

Day 1:
What do you notice about the sentence? You might see exciting words, figurative language, the type of sentence, or even special parts of speech. Write about what you notice.
Day 2:
Rewrite the mentor sentence exactly as it is written, but skip lines in between. Label all of the parts of speech that you know in this sentence.
Day 3:
Revise the mentor sentence by making it more descriptive or exciting. Try adding or changing adjectives, verbs, or specific nouns. Remember to keep the meaning of the sentence the same!
Day 4:
Imitate the mentor sentence by keeping the style and structure the same but making it your own. You should create a brand new sentence.
On Monday, the focus (why I chose the sentence to align with the MCCRS), and the quiz on Friday focuses on that skill, and also spirals back to others. You will notice there are often similarities between the sentence of the week and the previous week’s.
MONDAY: Copy the mentor sentence exactly.

Circle the complete subject and underline the complete predicate.
Simple Subject _____________________ Simple Predicate __________________________

TUESDAY: Does the sentence contain:
Prepositions? ____________________________________
Adjectives? _______________________________________
Adverbs? _________________________________________
Contractions? _____________________________________
Pronouns? ________________________________________
What type of sentence is this? Declarative Interrogative Imperative Exclamatory
What style of sentence is this? Simple Compound Complex
How do you know these descriptions?
Do any words contain a:
Prefix ____________________ Suffix ____________________
Are any words Homonyms? _____________________________


It was a purple night, and we were driving on a highway full of cars.

Monday: possibilities to notice compound sentence, comma separates independent clauses, descriptive, pronouns, compound words

Tuesday: label the sentence Pronouns: It, we Article: A

Adjectives: purple, full Prepositions: on, of

Nouns: night, highway, cars

Verbs: driving, (linking) was, (helping) were

Conjunction: and

Complete and simple subjects and predicates

Wednesday: possibility of revision

It was a dark, purple night, and my family and I were driving on a busy highway full of cars.

label what was added

Thursday: possible imitation

It was a yellow morning, and we were riding in a school bus full of children.

compare parts of the mentor sentence to new sentence.

None of them doesn’t go up at the corners.
My eyes had started out the door.
The other kids were covered by my bangs.
My mouth looked over at me and Mom.

Skills Practice:

Simple Subject and Predicates

In this activity, the subjects and predicates are already separated, label all the parts of speech. Cut each rectangle out and glue in your grammar notebook in complete sentences.

Underline the simple subject and predicate in each of the four sentences.

Skills Practice : Invitation to Edit:
It was a purple night, we were drive on a highway full of cars

Circle 4 mistakes in the sentence. Rewrite the sentence correctly:

In the following sentences, circle the simple subjects and underline the simple predicates.

I know that sounds kind of babyish of me, but I wasn’t feeling very brave right then.

I was about to say something else, but then all of a sudden I herd other kids’ voices outside the office.

Via walked next to me like she usually does, and Mom and Dad were behind us.

She ended by asking if anyone had any questions, and Julian raised his hand.

Mom has packed me a cheese sandwich, graham crackers, and a juice box, so I didn’t need to stand on line when my table was called.

Most of the names weren’t actually summer names, but they were names that had some kind of connection to summer.

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The Need for Explicit Instruction in Teaching Students to WriteThe Need for Explicit Instruction in Teaching Students to Write

By Judith C. Hochman, Natalie Wexler

hen Monica entered high school, her writing skills were minimal. After repeating first grade and getting more than
100 hours of tutoring in elementary school, she’d managed to learn to read well enough to get by, and she was
comfortable with math. But writing seemed beyond her reach.

During her freshman year at New Dorp High School, a historically low-performing school on Staten Island in New York City,
Monica’s history teacher asked her to write an essay on Alexander the Great. “I think Alexander the Great was one of the
best military leaders,” Monica wrote. Her entire response consisted of six simple sentences, one of which didn’t make

An actual essay, Monica said later, “wasn’t going to happen. It was like, well, I got a sentence down. What now?”

Monica’s mother, who had spent many frustrating years trying to help her daughter improve her academic performance,
was equally skeptical about Monica’s ability to write an essay. “It just didn’t seem like something Monica could ever do.”

Unfortunately, Monica is far from alone. Across the country—and especially in schools serving students from low-income
families and English language learners—students at all grade levels have similar problems expressing themselves clearly
and coherently in writing. On nationwide tests, only about 25 percent of students are able to score at a proficient level in

And yet, expository writing—the kind of writing that explains and informs—is essential for success in school and the
workplace. Students who can’t write at a competent level struggle in college. With the advent of e-mail and the Internet, an
increasing number of jobs require solid writing skills. That’s true even of many jobs—such as being a paramedic—that
people may not think of as involving writing. No matter what path students choose in life, the ability to communicate their
thoughts in writing in a way that others can easily understand is crucial.

The problem is not that students like Monica are incapable of learning to write well. Rather, the problem is that American
schools haven’t been teaching students how to write. Teachers may have assigned writing, but they haven’t explicitly taught
it in a careful sequence of logical steps, beginning at the sentence level.

That’s not the fault of the teachers: in the vast majority of cases, their training didn’t include instruction in how to teach
writing. The assumption has been that if students read enough, they’ll simply pick up writing skills through a kind of
osmosis. But writing is the hardest thing we ask students to do, and the evidence is clear that very few students become
good writers on their own. Many students—even at the college level—have difficulty constructing a coherent sentence, let
alone a fluid, cohesive essay. If you’re reading this article, which is drawn from our book, The Writing Revolution: A Guide to
Advancing Thinking through Writing in All Subjects and Grades, chances are that at least some of your students, and
perhaps most, fall into that category.

To be effective, writing instruction should start in elementary school. But when students do get a chance to write in
elementary school, they’re often encouraged to write at length too soon, sometimes at a furious pace. They don’t learn how
to construct interesting and grammatically correct sentences first, and they aren’t encouraged to plan or outline before they
write. The idea is that later on they’ll refine their writing, under the teacher’s guidance, bringing coherence and—perhaps—
correct grammar and punctuation to what they’ve produced. But after getting feedback, students may be reluctant to
rewrite a multipage essay that they’ve already worked on for hours. And teachers, confronted by page after page of
incoherent, error-riddled writing, may not know where to begin.

When students get to middle school or high school, it’s assumed that they’ve already learned the basics of writing. As many
secondary teachers know, that assumption has little to do with reality. But rather than beginning with teaching the
fundamental skills their students lack—by, say, guiding students through the process of writing well-crafted sentences—
teachers feel pressured to have their students meet grade-level expectations and produce multiparagraph essays.

High school teachers are also likely to ask students to write analytically about the content of the courses they’re taking. But
many students have written nothing except narratives in elementary and middle school, often about their personal
experiences. That kind of writing doesn’t prepare them for the demands of high school, college, or the workforce.

In recent years, with the advent of the Common Core State Standards and the revamping of many states’ standards,
teachers at almost all grade levels have been expected to have students write not just narratives but also informative and
argumentative essays. But there’s been little reliable guidance on how to teach students those skills. The writing standards
tell teachers where their students should end up. But what teachers need is a road map that tells them how to get there.

Our approach to teaching writing, which we call The Writing Revolution (TWR), offers just such a road map. It provides a
clear, coherent, evidence-based method of instruction that you can use no matter what subject or grade level you teach. It
works just as well with elementary students as with those, like Monica, who are in high school. The method has
demonstrated repeatedly that it can turn weak writers into strong ones by focusing students’ writing practice on specific
techniques that match their needs and providing them with prompt and clear feedback. Insurmountable as the writing
challenges faced by many students may seem, TWR can make a dramatic difference.

A History of The Writing Revolution

Teachers from around the country—in fact, from around the world—have been using this method for more than 25 years,
learning it through teacher-training courses held in or near New York City. First known as the Hochman Method, TWR is
being implemented at a broad range of schools, spanning all grade levels. Since 2013, we have been partnering with
schools and school districts in Louisiana, New York, Texas, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to provide more intensive and
hands-on training and coaching.

But how did this method originate? Years ago, like most classroom teachers, I (Judith) would assign writing activities that
focused on my students’ perceptions and feelings: a visit to an imaginary country, a meaningful moment in their lives. My
undergraduate and graduate training hadn’t included any preparation for teaching writing, nor had I been assigned to read
any research on effective writing instruction. Later, as a school administrator, I observed many lessons in a similar vein.

I tried consulting the research, but, at the time, academic researchers were paying far more attention to reading than
writing. So I began to experiment. I was fortunate to be at the Windward School, an independent school in New York for
students with learning and language disabilities in first grade through high school. The Windward staff members and I were
able to try varying approaches to writing instruction.

We stopped teaching the mechanics of writing in isolation as a set of rules and definitions. Instead, we asked students at all
grade levels to write about the content they were learning and then used their writing to give specific guidance. The
feedback might be, “Use an appositive in your topic sentence,” “Put your strongest argument last,” “Use transitions when
presenting your points,” or “Try starting your thesis statement with a subordinating conjunction.” These are the kinds of
moves that students often have trouble implementing, because they appear more often in writing than in spoken language.
But because we had explicitly taught our students how to do these things, they were able to respond. Students improved
not just in their writing, but also in their analytical thinking, reading comprehension, and oral communication.

Seeing such dramatic gains, we decided to share what we were learning with teachers who, like myself, had no proper
training in writing instruction. To that end, we founded the Windward Teacher Training Institute.

In 2012, an article appeared in The Atlantic magazine about how the method we developed had produced dramatic results
at a public high school with 3,000 students on Staten Island—New Dorp, where Monica started as a freshman in 2009. The
article detailed the New Dorp faculty members’ discovery that many of their students didn’t know how to construct
sentences using conjunctions such as but and so—not to mention words such as although and despite. The principal of
New Dorp, Deirdre DeAngelis, heard about Windward from a friend, went to visit, and decided she wanted to bring that
approach to writing instruction to her school.

After New Dorp had been implementing our method for a couple of years, the article reported, pass rates on state exams
that included essay questions rose sharply—in the case of English, from 67 percent to 89 percent—as did the graduation
rate, from 63 percent to nearly 80 percent. The article spurred a tremendous amount of interest in the method, and in
response I founded a nonprofit that used the title of the Atlantic article: The Writing Revolution.

Good Writing Requires Deliberate Practice

TWR is as much a method of teaching content as it is a method of teaching writing. There’s no separate writing block, and
no separate writing curriculum. Instead, teachers of all subjects adapt TWR’s strategies and activities to their preexisting
curriculum and weave them into their content instruction.

In other approaches to writing instruction, a teacher might give students a description of the elements of a good paragraph
or essay, or perhaps present a model piece of writing and have them try to emulate it. But for many students, that’s not
enough. They may be able to read and appreciate writing that flows well and uses varied sentence structure, but that
doesn’t mean they can figure out how to write that way themselves. For them, the techniques of good writing are a secret
code they just can’t crack.

TWR’s method helps them break the writing process down into manageable chunks and then has students practice the
chunks they need, repeatedly, while also learning content. For example, if you want your students to make their sentences
more informative and varied, you won’t just ask them to do that and leave it up to them to figure out how. Instead, you’ll
introduce them to specific ways of creating more complex sentences, using structures that frequently appear in writing and
provide the reader with more information—for example, by using appositives.

But you won’t just give students the definition of an appositive—“a noun or noun phrase placed next to another noun to
explain it more fully”—and ask them to start using appositives in their writing. You’ll first show them examples of
appositives and then have them underline appositives in sentences you provide. For example, you might give them “George
Washington, the first president of the United States, is often called the father of our country.” In that sentence, they would
underline “the first president of the United States.” Then you’ll give them a list of nouns—related to the content they’ve
been studying—along with a list of appositives, and ask them to make the appropriate matches. After that, students will add
appositives to sentences you provide, or construct sentences around appositives you give them. After a while, you’ll ask
them to create their own sentences using appositives—and eventually, they’ll simply do that spontaneously.

This kind of practice—“deliberate practice,” as cognitive scientists call it —is quite different from having students practice
writing by giving them, say, half an hour to write and simply turning them loose. Merely doing the same thing over and over
is unlikely to improve their performance. To make their writing better, they need a series of strategies that specifically target
the skills they haven’t yet mastered, while building on the skills they already have, in a gradual, step-by-step process. They
also need clear, direct feedback that helps them identify their mistakes and monitor their progress.

The Six Principles of The Writing Revolution

TWR’s method rests on the following principles:

1. Students need explicit instruction in writing, beginning in the early elementary grades.
2. Sentences are the building blocks of all writing.
3. When embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool.
4. The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing activities.
5. Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing.
6. The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.

Principle #1: Students need explicit instruction in writing, beginning in the early elementary grades.

Students won’t pick up writing skills just by reading, and they need to learn how the conventions of written language differ
from those of spoken language.

Many students who are good readers struggle when it comes to writing. Unlike reading, writing involves deciding what to
say, which words to use, how to spell them, perhaps how to form the letters, and what order to place the words in—and
that’s just at the sentence level. Writing a paragraph or an entire essay requires even more decision making, planning, and

Just as good readers aren’t necessarily good writers, students who can speak coherently may still write incoherently. Far
too many students write the way they speak, using simple or rambling sentences or fragments. That kind of communication
may work when we’re speaking to someone in front of us. But when we write, we don’t have visual cues to draw on, and we
often don’t know exactly who the audience is. We need to express ourselves with far more precision and clarity, anticipating
the facts and details a reader will require to grasp our meaning. We also need to rely on words and punctuation rather than
intonation and pauses to indicate nuances in meaning or breaks in the narrative. We have to abide by conventions of
spelling and grammar to ensure that mistakes don’t distract a reader from the content.

Although good writing should be clear and direct, it often involves more complex sentence structures and a more varied
and precise vocabulary than spoken language. When we speak, we rarely begin sentences with words such as despite or
although, but they can be extremely useful in written language. And connecting our thoughts with phrases like as a result or
for example, although unnecessary in most conversational speech, can be vital in creating a fluid piece of writing.

More generally, when we write, our words are preserved on paper—or perhaps on a screen—making not just grammatical
and syntactical errors but also logical flaws far more glaring than in spoken language. And we rarely sustain spoken
language for the equivalent length of a paragraph, let alone an essay, unless we’re delivering a speech or participating in a
formal debate. Shaping a logical, unbroken narrative or argument in writing requires far more thought and planning than
having a conversation or making a contribution to a class discussion.

The elementary grades are the ideal time to begin writing instruction. If we assign only stories, journal entries, and poems in
the early grades—as I did as a young teacher—we’re wasting precious time. Although it’s certainly possible to teach
expository writing skills to older students, it’s much easier to begin the process in elementary school. Elementary students
can practice their spelling and vocabulary words by writing original sentences, and they can acquire knowledge by
developing questions about what they’re reading. At the same time, they can hone their handwriting skills.*

Certainly, we want children to enjoy writing and use it as a means of self-expression. But many students produce writing so
incoherent that readers are unable to respond. We need to equip children with the tools that will give them confidence as
writers and enable them to express themselves in a way that others can understand. And far from feeling that practicing the
mechanics of writing is drudgery, students often gain a sense of pride and mastery from learning to craft well-constructed
sentences and logically sequenced paragraphs.

Principle #2: Sentences are the building blocks of all writing.

In many schools, the quantity of writing has long been valued over its quality. The Common Core and other standards have
only increased the pressure on teachers to assign essay-length writing. But if students haven’t learned how to write an
effective sentence, that is where instruction needs to begin.

Of course students must learn to write at length, and TWR includes strategies and activities designed to guide them
through that process. But a writer who can’t compose a decent sentence will never produce a decent essay—or even a
decent paragraph. And if students are still struggling to write sentences, they have less brain power available to do the
careful planning that writing a good paragraph or composition requires.

A sentence-level assignment is manageable for students who are still grappling with grammar, syntax, spelling, and
punctuation. It’s also manageable for their teachers, who may be overwhelmed by correcting an essay full of mechanical
errors, especially if it also contains substantive misunderstandings.

Sentence-level writing shouldn’t be dismissed as something that’s too basic for older students to engage in. As one writing
researcher has observed, sentences “are literally miniature compositions.” Producing even a single sentence can impose
major cognitive demands on students, especially if it requires them to explain, paraphrase, or summarize sophisticated

Even at the sentence level, however, students need appropriate guidance if their writing skills are to improve. TWR gives
teachers an array of activities that guide students to use complete sentences, vary their structure, and use complex syntax
and vocabulary—while at the same time ensuring that students master content.

Once students have acquired basic sentence-level skills, TWR also provides structured support for lengthier writing. But
crafting an effective sentence is a useful and important exercise, no matter the skill level of the student, and teachers
should continue to assign sentence-level activities even after students have moved on to writing paragraphs and

Principle #3: When embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool.

When schools do focus on expository writing, the assignments are often on topics that draw only on students’ personal
experiences or opinions rather than on the content they are actually studying in English, history, science, or other subjects.
Students may, for example, practice persuasive writing by taking pro or con positions on school uniforms or an extended
school day or year. They may learn to write a compare-and-contrast essay by weighing the benefits and disadvantages of
being famous.

Such general topics can be useful for introducing students to a particular aspect of writing—say, creating topic sentences.
But to maximize the benefits of writing instruction, students should start practicing their writing skills on topics embedded
in content as soon as possible. When writing is embedded in content, students from the earliest grades through high school
are better able to express themselves orally and in writing.

In addition, until students have had quite a bit of systematic and targeted instruction, the writing skills they develop with
regard to one subject are unlikely to transfer to another. Having students write about topics unrelated to content represents
a huge wasted opportunity to boost their learning. Writing isn’t merely a skill; it’s also a powerful teaching tool. When
students write, they—and their teachers—figure out what they don’t understand and what further information they need.
And, when students write about the content they’re studying, they learn to synthesize information and produce their own
interpretations. That process helps them absorb and retain the substance of what they’re writing about and the vocabulary
that goes with it.

So, if students are learning about ancient Egypt, or about tornadoes and hurricanes, part of the instruction in those subjects
should include having students write about them. Writing and content knowledge are intimately related. You can’t write well
about something you don’t know well. The more students know about a topic before they begin to write, the better they’ll be
able to write about it. At the same time, the process of writing will deepen their understanding of a topic and help cement
that understanding in their memory.

A corollary of this principle is that all teachers must be writing teachers. Although teachers of subjects other than English
may be apprehensive about incorporating the teaching of writing into their curricula, in our experience most of them find
that, rather than detracting from their instruction, implementing TWR actually enhances their ability to teach and boosts
their students’ performance. And although the strategies should be practiced daily, they may take only five to 15 minutes of
class time. The strategies can be used as quick comprehension checks, do-now activities, and exit tickets.

Principle #4: The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing activities.

If you follow the third principle and connect your students’ writing activities with the subject matter that you’re teaching,
you’ll find that you can use the same activities for any grade level or content area and still challenge your students. The
form of the activity will stay the same, but the content is what makes it more or less rigorous.

For example, one TWR sentence-level strategy uses the conjunctions because, but, and so to encourage extended
responses. The teacher gives students a sentence stem and an independent clause ending with one of the conjunctions,
and asks them to finish it in three different ways, using each of the three conjunctions.

If you’re teaching elementary students, you might give them this stem:

Rocket learned to read _______________________________.

You’ll ask the students to complete the stem with a phrase beginning with because, but, and, or so. They might respond:

Rocket learned to read because the yellow bird taught him.

Rocket learned to read, but at first he was bored.

Rocket learned to read, so he was proud of himself.

In math, instead of asking, “What is a fraction?,” you can give your students this stem:

Fractions are like decimals ______________________________.

They might complete it like this:

Fractions are like decimals because they are all parts of wholes.

Fractions are like decimals, but they are written differently.

Fractions are like decimals, so they can be used interchangeably.

If you’re teaching science, you could give your students this stem:

Aerobic respiration is similar to anaerobic respiration _______________________________.

Here’s what they might say:

Aerobic respiration is similar to anaerobic respiration because both start with glucose and make ATP.

Aerobic respiration is similar to anaerobic respiration, but anaerobic respiration does not require oxygen.

Aerobic respiration is similar to anaerobic respiration, so both autotrophs and heterotrophs use aerobic and anaerobic

In each of these cases, students need to return to the material they have been studying and mine it carefully for information
to complete the stems.

No matter what content you use with these kinds of activities, the specificity of the prompts makes them far more powerful
than an open-ended question such as, “Why did Rocket learn to read?” Instead, adding the conjunction but, for example, to
the sentence stem “Rocket learned to read…” demands that students hold two contrasting ideas in their minds and find
evidence in a text to support one of them. Your students will be exercising their own judgment independently but in a way
that gives them the structure they need.

Principle #5: Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing.

Research has consistently found that teaching grammar rules in isolation doesn’t work. But that doesn’t mean teachers
can’t, or shouldn’t, teach grammar. What does work is to teach writing conventions and grammar in the context of students’
own writing.

Just as skills developed in writing about one subject may not transfer to another, many students won’t be able to apply
rules they’ve learned in the abstract to their own writing. Although it’s useful for students to have a general familiarity with
basic concepts such as “noun” and “verb,” that won’t necessarily prevent them from writing “sentences” that lack one or
the other.

Some people swear by sentence diagramming—often, those who feel that they themselves learned to write by using the
technique. And it may work for some students. But for many, and especially those who struggle with language, breaking
sentences into their component parts, labeling them as parts of speech, and plotting them on a diagram just adds to the

An alternative technique for teaching grammar that has been shown to produce excellent results in numerous studies—and
that is incorporated into TWR activities—is sentence combining. Rather than breaking down a preexisting sentence,
students create their own complex sentences by combining two or more simple sentences in a variety of ways. Perhaps
they’ll use a conjunction, a pronoun, or an appositive or subordinate clause. Students often find this approach more
engaging than diagramming, and it eliminates the need to devote mental energy to memorizing and remembering
grammatical terms.

Principle #6: The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.

When students are ready to tackle longer pieces of writing—paragraphs and compositions—they’ll need to go through four
steps before producing a final copy: planning, drafting, revising, and editing. But the most critical phases are planning and

All students need to plan before they write. Although experienced writers may be able to turn out a well-developed
paragraph or essay on the fly, most of the students we work with find it overwhelming to organize their thoughts at the
same time they’re choosing words and figuring out the best way to structure their sentences.

That’s why we provide two basic outline templates: one for planning paragraphs, and the other for planning multiparagraph
writing. The lion’s share of the work of writing occurs at the planning stage, as students identify the main idea or theme of
their writing, the points they will make, and the order they will make them in. As they do this work, students are discovering
what further information or clarification they need, making the necessary connections between ideas or claims and relevant
details or evidence, and ensuring that they don’t wander off into irrelevancy or repetition.

Once students have a well-organized outline, it’s a fairly simple matter to translate it into a rudimentary draft. Then comes
the next major phase of writing: revising the draft so that it reads smoothly and coherently. This is where students will draw
on the sentence-level skills they’ve acquired: using subordinating conjunctions, appositives, and other techniques to vary
their sentence structure and inserting transition words and phrases between sentences and paragraphs to make them flow.

ecause teachers embed TWR activities in the content of their own curricula, the approach doesn’t look exactly the
same in every school or even in every classroom that uses it. But across the board, teachers who adhere to these
six principles while implementing TWR’s method have found it to be a powerful way not only of teaching writing

skills but also of ensuring their students are grasping content and thinking analytically. They’ve learned to give students
clear, explicit writing instruction …

Teaching Spelling

Teaching Spelling

Simple view of Writing, developed by Dr. Louisa Moats, shows that competent writers need both lower level and higher-level skills to be competent writers. Students that master both low level skills and high-level skills are more likely to be competent writers. Better spellers can produce compositions of higher quality and quantity. Spelling development helps free working memory so that students can focus on other metacognition tasks and higher-level language skills. Spelling, although categorized as a lower level transcription skill, is an important aspect of writing.

Simple View of Writing (similar to the Simple View of Reading) says that students need to develop/ master lower level writing skills as well as higher level writing skills to be a competent writer.

· Higher level writing skills– Using story structure or information text structure, selecting a topic, choosing format, adding or deleting info, varying sentences, audience awareness, remembering the plan, etc.

· Lower level writing skills– forming the letters (handwriting), spelling, capitalizing, punctuation, monitoring noun/verb, using standard English/grammar, editing, proofreading, etc.

5 Principles:

· 1. Language of origin- the language from which a word came into English,, as well as its history, often explains the word’s spelling (

· 2. Phoneme-grapheme correspondences- Phoneme-grapheme correspondences are the mappings between speech sounds and letter groups. A grapheme is a unit that spells the grapheme.

· 3. The position of a phoneme or a grapheme in a word- the position of a phoneme or grapheme refers to whether it is at the beginning, middle, or end of a syllable and what sounds (or letters) come before or after it. Position of sounds and letters often determine what letters are used from spelling.

· 4. Letter order and sequence patterns, or orthographic conventions- over the past few centuries, scribes and dictionary writers put constrains on how we are allowed to use letters. In addition, there are syllable-spelling conventions, and syllables can be classified into 6 regular types.

· 5. Meaning (morphology) and part of speech- English is morphomenic! A deep orthography like English represents both sound and meaning.

Focusing on these principles, how do we teach Spelling?

· Emphasize multisensory techniques- saying, writing, (and manipulating with letter tiles) at the same time

· Teach the patterns in written English- don’t memorize words in isolation

· Limit the number of non-pattern words (sight words); then gradually introduce

· Practice through dictation, phoneme grapheme activities, cloze exercises, and writing and in written expression (sometimes teachers include at the end of spelling tests)

· Set goals for the week

*Spelling/Learning disabled student- may only need to have 3 or 4 words per week, continue to show patterns, establish word memory for words

Angie Neal, M.S. CCC-SLP

A (Sort of) Succinct Summary about Spelling

Why We Need to Know More about Spelling
x Federal laws (ESSA and IDEA) and many state laws require that students receive systematic, explicit and

evidence-based instruction (more on that below) in the essential components of reading instruction. These
components include phonological awareness, phonics (see phonics vs. spelling below), fluency, vocabulary and

x Writing (translating spoken language into print via the spelling of words) was the first thing that happened to
reading. The more we know about how the words we speak are made up of sounds, how sounds are
represented by letters as well as the predictable patterns for how letters can be combined, the better we will be
at reading familiar and unfamiliar words.

Phonics vs. Spelling Wha he Diffe ence
x Think of spelling as the action of physically writing letters to represent sounds to form written words (a verb).

Phonics is the study of the connection between how words sound and the letters and/or letter combinations
that represent each of the sounds in words. Phonics is the knowledge used to perform that action (a noun).

x English words follow a set of predictable patterns; not rules. Knowing these patterns is how proficient readers
a e able o di ing i h ook a a po ible o d and j a a equence of letters that could not be a word.

x As proficient readers, we are aware of patterns in the English language i e in he j e ample every word
m ha e a i en o el o d ne e end in he le e j , and he le e ne e come af e he le e ).
However, for beginning and struggling readers, every printed word is as unfamiliar and challenging to decode as

j until he ha e been a gh he e pa e n and he code fo ha o nd look like

How Phonological Awareness is Related to Spelling
• Phonological awareness is a conscious awareness of the sounds of language. If a student struggles with being

aware of the sounds of language, they will struggle to understand how spoken sounds are represented by the
lines, circles and squiggles known as letters.

• Phonological awareness is what allows us to spell words by accurately representing each sound in the word. For
example, if a den pell he o d pa a pa i ma be d e o poor awareness for each of the sounds.

• Phonological awareness is also what allows us to hear the differences between similar sounding words, compare
o d e kno i h o d e don kno e and to subsequently represent each of the sounds when spelling

(ex. habit and habitat, session and secession, etc.).

Phonological Awareness and the Alphabetic Principle
• The alphabetic principle is not about the 26 letters of the alphabet. The Alphabetic Principle is the idea that

letters (graphemes) and letter patterns (phonics) represent the sounds (phonemes) of spoken language.
• To master the alphabetic principle, students must be able to hear, differentiate and be aware of the sounds of

spoken language (a.k.a. phonological awareness)
• Keep in mind that the letter name does not always logically correlate with the letter sound. This can be very

confusing especially for students who struggle with being aware of the sounds (phonological awareness) in
words. This is why alphabetic knowledge is a screening tool. There is a strong phonological component to
learning letter sounds. When students a en a a e of he sounds, its takes longer for them to learn the letter
names (and their corresponding sounds).

The Alphabetic Principle and Phonics
• The goal of phonics instruction is to help children to learn and be able to use the Alphabetic Principle, but there

is no way to do that unless you have knowledge of the 44 sounds of English and what they look like.
• Thi i h defining he Alphabe ic P inciple can be conf ing – because it is not just about the 26 letters of the

alphabet. It is about how the alphabetic principle overlaps with phonics.

Angie Neal, M.S. CCC-SLP

• He e an example of how the Alphabetic Principle overlaps with phonics: The sound /j/ may look four different
ways. It can look like the lette j he le e g he le e eq ence of -ge o he le e eq ence of -dge
There are phonic patterns that inform us of which letter/letter sequence to use.

Phonological Awareness and Phonics Wha he Diffe ence
x Phonological awareness is a focus on the sounds of language. Phonics is knowledge of what the sounds may look

like and the predictable allowable patterns for letters/letter combinations.
x Phonological a a ene can be done i h he e e clo ed phonic can

What about Sight Words, High Frequency Words and Irregular Words?
x Only 4 percent of words in English are truly irregular. Approximately 50 percent of all English words can be

spelled accurately by sound symbol correspondence patterns alone, and another 36 percent can be spelled
accurately except for one speech sound (usually a vowel) (Moats, L. & Tolman, C., 2009). The remaining words
are able to be figured out when students have an understanding of their origin or etymology.

x High frequency words should be taught within the appropriate pattern they follow (i.e. like ime made fall
within the magic e make he o el a i name pa e n a o nd abo again o ld be ideal o each
when learning about the schwa sound pape open belo o ld be pa of a ni abo open syllables, etc.).

x Irregular words should be taught by focusing on the parts that are regular and then teaching the parts they need
o lea n b hea check o Hea Wo d Magic f om Reall G ea Reading com .

x If a student memorizes ten words, they can only read ten words. When a child learns the sounds of ten letters
they can read 350 words with three sounds, 4,320 words with four sounds and 21,650 words with five sounds
(Kozloff, 2002).

Assessing Spelling
x Single word dictation does not equate to the challenge of reading and spelling in connected texts. Therefore,

assessments of word knowledge should also ensure that students can apply knowledge of the word as well as
visually discriminate correct vs. incorrect spellings.

x One of the most powerf l mea e of a den eading kill i o look a a ample of den i ing in
connected text Looking a den i ing i like a peek nde he hood of he kill they use when reading.

o When sounds are misrepresented, missing our out of place as a signal that phonological awareness may
be impaired (ex. gril for girl, sop for stop, pig for peg, chain for train)

o Errors where the grammatical morpheme is not applied correctly is a signal that the student is struggling
with an awareness of the morphemes and the patterns for how to write them (ex. walkt for walked,
runing for running, magishun for magician, eggz for eggs, etc.)

o Words that have all of the sounds represented correctly, but the words are still incorrectly written
reveals a lack of knowledge about the appropriate phonics pattern that should be used (ex. qkit for quit,
ran for rain, rok for rock, brij for bridge, etc.)

o Words that are written, but have the wrong meaning are related to a lack of knowledge related to
homograph or heteronym errors (ex. bear for bare, there for their, which for witch, won for one, etc.)

o Wo d ha ha e all of he o nd b ill don look igh e eal poo orthographic imagery for what
he o d ho ld look like (ex. brane for brain, cidy for city, flote for float, frite for fright)

Teaching Spelling
• Spelling should be taught systematically and explicitly (see definition below and the laws above) beginning in

early childhood with instruction in phonological awareness and should continue through late elementary school.
• Look for a scope and sequence that builds from simple letter sound correspondences and phonic patterns to

more complex, less predictable patterns as well as practice activities that draw connections to phonological
awareness (i.e. how many sounds are in this word, sort the words by number of syllables, etc.)

• Provide differentiated levels of instruction to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom.
• Include review weeks where new words that follow previously taught patterns are studied.

Angie Neal, M.S. CCC-SLP

• Use each day of the week to focus on a separate skill using words from that unit: explanation of the phonic
pattern, applying phonological awareness skills to the advanced levels, developing orthographic imagery,
teaching meaning, applying morphemes.

Systematic and Explicit Instruction Defined
S ema ic and e plici in c ion i Systematic and explicit instruction is NOT

– Phonemes, phonics and morphology are taught in a logical
order going from simple to complex, starting with predictable
correspondences and then moving towards less predictable
– Systematic and explici in c ion ho ld incl de

Phonological awareness instruction in PreK and K
Phonological awareness through the advanced levels

through 2nd grade and/or for students who need it
Mo e han j ba ic phonic le
How to apply grammatical morphemes to the end of

The basic syllable shapes and how to divide them

…. Greek and Latin roots

…. Understanding and differentiating confusing word endings

– Give the word list on Monday and test on Friday
without any instruction, explanation or directed
– Word lists that do not progress from simple to
complex or that are random (without an organizing
– Grade levels that are not aware of what was taught
the grade level before
– Meanings of the words and parts of the words are
not studied as well as spelling
– Systematic and explicit instruction that stops after
2nd grade (or 3rd grade or 4th grade)
– Sight words added to the end of a list vs. high
frequency words within the pattern list

Spelling: What NOT to Do
1. Never, ever encourage guessing at words. Instead, give students the skills they need to actually decode the

word. Looking at pictures, guessing and/or relying on any strategy other than decoding the word takes longer
than a simply decoding the word and uses up cognitive resources that interfere with comprehension.

2. Ne e e e p ono nce a con onan blend oge he a one o nd i e bl o In ead p ono nce each
sound individually (i.e. /b/ – /l/, /s/ – /t/, and /s/ /t/ /r/). This is one of the most common errors.

3. Never, ever repeat the sounds (ex. /k k k/ /a a a/ /t t- fo ca Sa i once and a i like o mean i
As a proficient reader, do you repeat the sounds over and over when reading or spelling?

4. Never, ever, teach students to pay attention to only the first and last letters. Every sound makes a difference in
the meaning (i.e. salt/slat, deed/dead, seed/said, chin/chain, trap/trip, dial/deal, heat/heart, rig/ring, etc.)

5. Ne e e e add h hen p ono ncing a ingle phoneme e b h fo b o h fo o h fo
etc.). In doing so, we are incorrectly teaching students that the one phoneme actually makes two sounds.

Spelling: What to ALWAYS Do
1. When grading spelling tests, instead of writing a grade on the paper write the correct spelling beside the word.

This helps students pay attention to the difference between the correct and incorrect spellings as opposed to
what the grade was on the paper.

2. When a student asks you how to spell a word, instead of spelling it for them, ask them to tell you the first sound.
Then ask them what sound comes after that, and then after that and so on. Ask for the sound not the letter!

3. While practicing spelling words, help students count each sound by putting up one finger for each sound that
they say. Then, when they go to write the word, they should make sure they have written that number of
sounds. Remember, some letter sounds can be made p of o o mo e le e e ck in kick ch in
beach j o nd in f dge

4. Pronounce unfamiliar words that students will encounter in their curriculum before reading them in the text.
Have students repeat the word after you. Tell them what the word means. It is easier to spell, read and
understand new, challenging, unfamiliar words if they have phonological long term memory for what the word
sounds like and have some familiarity with its meaning.

5. In ead ing a o d all ba ed on le e c ea e a non-alphabetic word wall. When using an alphabetic word
wall, there are inconsistencies. Fo e ample nde he le e c he e co ld be o d ch a can cen and
child Onl one of ho e adhe e o he c a k pa e n In ead c ea e a sound wall based on graphemes

Angie Neal, M.S. CCC-SLP

(letters that represent the 44 sounds) or post words under previously taught phonic patterns. For example, it
o ld make mo e en e o ha e a ec ion de o ed o hen c make i of o nd hen i make i

ha d o nd k and ano he ec ion en i el fo ch

What Do They Mean by Evidence-Based ?
x Evidence-based means that a particular collection of instructional practices has a proven record of success.

There is reliable, trustworthy, and valid evidence that when the practices are implemented with fidelity with a
particular group of children, the children can be expected to make adequate gains in reading achievement.

x The most important thing you can do to determine whether or not a program or curriculum is evidence-based is
o do o o n digging don el onl on online e ie anecdo al a emen clea ingho e pe of

reports and most definitely do NOT trust the sticker on the front ha a He I m e ea ch/evidence based!
Be sure you understand how to read the tables in the back of the manual and be able to determine whether or
not the study was a valid, reliable and without bias. If o a en e a k fo help f om a chool p chologi
speech-language pathologist or another specialist who is trained in research design and how to read and
interpret research.

x For decades, there has been a vast amount of research focused on how the brain learns to read. Below is just a
very small snippet of powerful findings from the research about the essential components of reading instruction
as it relates to spelling. My advice don t believe anything you ve read so far. Get curious and begin doing your
own research!
• Phonemic awareness is a more powerful predictor than nonverbal intelligence, vocabulary, and listening

comprehension, and it often correlates more highly with reading acquisition than tests of general
intelligence or reading readiness (Stanovich, 1986) and is the strongest single predictor of word reading
difficulties (e.g. Pennington, et al. 2012; Snowling, 2000).

• In general, students taught through an explicit phonics approach display scores on word-level reading tests
that are 6-7 standard score points higher than student that are taught phonics skills informally (effect size of
.44; NICHD, 2000). More importantly, the positive impact of explicit and systematic phonics on at-risk
readers is much greater with standard score equivalents being 11 points higher than at-risk readers who are
taught through nonsystematic phonics approaches. That difference is large enough that it may prevent
some students from future reading difficulties (Kilpatrick, 2015).

• With intensive instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics and the opportunity to read connected texts,
students demonstrate average gains of 14 standard score points on the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test
(WRMT-R) which are maintained at one and two year follow ups with nearly 40% of students requiring no
ongoing special education reading support (Kilpatrick, 2015).

Recommended Programs
• A well trained teacher can adapt almost any program to meet the specific needs of any student and because

every program has limitations. A teacher should be smarter than they program or curriculum they use. Money is
better spent on training than on most programs because some p og am don ha e research to support them
(or don t have research on them yet), some programs only focus on phonic patterns while omitting the other
essential components, some are for beginning instruction, some are better for one-on-one, some are better for
whole classrooms, etc.

• Shameless advertising Spelling That Makes Sense is the program I wrote when I could not find a spelling
program that checked all of bo e . It is based on the research for phonics, phonological awareness,
morphology, vocabulary and other related areas of written language. It is divided by grade levels which can
easily be adapted for differentiated instruction within a classroom. Instead of referring to them as grade levels,
they can be broken down into the categories of word learners. It can be found on TPT (search Spelling That
Makes Sense Angie Neal).

For more information or to request a workshop for your school or district about spelling, phonological awareness, phonics,

vocabulary, morphology, dyslexia and more literacy related topics,
I can be reached at [email protected]

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