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Writing Essentials

Raising Expectations and Results While Simplifying Teaching

Writing Essentials is conversational, upbeat, practical, eminently readable, illustrated with a wealth of children's writing, and filled with proven techniques for teaching writing well and managing your instructional time more effectively. The included DVD takes you inside the writing conference.

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Full Description

What does great writing instruction look like and sound like?
How do successful teachers of writing get great writers who enjoy writing?
Where do they find the time for instruction, assessment, and test prep?

In Writing Essentials Regie Routman demystifies the process of teaching writing well and gives you the knowledge, research, precise instructional language, and confidence you need to succeed. With Regie's help, you'll transform your classroom into an organized, joyful writing environment where students connect reading with writing every day across the curriculum, learn essential skills like grammar and spelling, and achieve higher scores on high-stakes tests through sensible, writing-based test preparation and daily classroom-based assessment.

Writing Essentials specifically and explicitly demonstrates practical, easy-to-do strategies that turn your writing instruction practices into best practices. Follow Routman's path for successfully leading all students-including English language learners, writers who struggle, and students coping with learning disabilities-from first draft to publication. You'll find expert advice and specific demonstrations on a wide variety of techniques, including:

  • demonstrating your own writing process for students
  • organizing and managing the writing classroom
  • conducting effective, efficient writing conferences
  • creating meaningful rubrics for better assessment
  • teaching various forms of narrative and informational writing-and poetry
  • applying shared writing across the grades and across the curriculum
  • teaching editing and revision
  • mapping out your writing instruction with Regie's own flexible, five-day lesson-planning model.
In addition, Writing Essentials includes a DVD with eight three-to-four-minute video clips from primary and intermediate classrooms that show Regie conferring with writers and celebrating their work as she teaches and assesses. These invaluable clips, and the detailed notes that accompany them, take you inside the writing conference to see its structures and procedures while the sample classroom publications also on the DVD reveal the exciting possibilities of working with student writers.


Writing Essentials is conversational, upbeat, practical, eminently readable, illustrated with a wealth of children's writing, and filled with proven techniques for teaching writing well and managing your instructional time more effectively. With Routman in hand, you'll not only have the inspiration to say "I can do that too," but you'll have first-rate resources and strategies to answer your questions and help make great writing instruction happen in your classroom immediately.

For more information on using the DVD, please click here.

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)


One: The Essential Writing Life

  1. Simplify the Teaching of Writing
    Why Writing Essentials?
    Teach What's Essential
    12 Writing Essentials for All Grades

  1. Start with Celebration
    Change the Status of Kids in the Classroom
    Start with a Story
    See What Writers Do Well
    Make Enjoyment Central to Teaching Writing-Let the Fun Begin

  1. Share Your Writing Life
    Bond as a Staff by Writing Together
    Examine Your Life as a Writer
    Find Your Own Voice

Two: Teaching Essentials

  1. Raise Your Expectations
    Change the School Culture of Low Expectations
    Nurture and Nudge
    Rely on an Optimal Learning Model
    Focus on the Writer First

  1. Do More Shared Writing
    Apply Principles of Instruction and Learning
    Implement Shared Writing
    A Framework for a Shared Writing Lesson
    Teaching Tips to Go Along with Shared Writing
    Use Shared Writing to Do Important Word Work
    Observe Shared Writing in Action
    Tried and True Ideas for Shared Writing

  1. Capitalize on the Reading-Writing Connection
    Link Writing with Reading
    Ensure Students Read Quality Materials
    Examine Written Responses to Reading
    Use Writing to Improve Comprehension
    Lesson Snapshot: Summary Writing

Three: The Essential Writing Day

  1. Be Efficient and Integrate Basic Skills
    Start with Meaning and Keep It Whole
    Include Audience in All Writing
    Teach Explicitly and Tell Students Why
    Take Advantage of the "Efficiency of Context"
    Teach Useful Minilessons
    A Sampling of Common Minilessons
    Teach Students to Care About Revision
    Focus on Editing After Students Can Produce Quality Writing
    Teach Spelling Well
    Use Word Walls and Other Resources Effectively
    Provide High-Quality Instruction to Writers Who Struggle
    Proven Strategies for Writers Who Struggle-and All Writers

  1. Organize for Daily Writing
    Broaden Your Definition ofWriting Workshop
    Find Time for Daily Writing
    Set Up the Environment for Success
    Provide More Choice Within Meaningful Structure
    Teach Sensible Planning Strategies
    Make Excellent Management a Priority
    Put Genre Study in Perspective
    A Framework for Teaching Writing Genres
    Write and Publish More Short Pieces
    Do More Publishing

  1. Conference with Students
    Know What a Writing Conference Is
    Depend on Whole-Class Share
    Tips for Successful Whole-Class Shares and Conferences
    Use a Variety of Other Conferences
    Simplify Writing Conferences
    Put the Writer First
    Begin with Content Conferences
    What to Focus on in a Content Conference
    End with Editing Conferences
    What to Focus on in an Editing Conference
    Hand Over More Responsibility to Students
    Use Language that Signals Students to Take More Responsibility

  1. Make Assessment Count
    Become More Knowledgeable About Assessment
    Put Rubrics in Perspective
    Put High-Stakes Testing in Perspective
    Put a Schoolwide Assessment Policy into Practice
    Work Toward Student Self-Assessment

Four: Advocacy is Also Essential

  1. Build on Best Practice and Research
    Advocate for Excellence
    Be Knowledgeable About Relevant Research
    Some Key Research Findings
    Take Responsibility for Becoming an Effective Writing Teacher
    Adopt Practices of Highly Effective Teachers
    Develop a Schoolwide Vision
    Teach Kids to Be Courageous as Writers
    Use High Achievement to Promote Best Practice Teaching

  1. Make Every Minute Count
    Connect Your Home and School Lives
    Secrets of Good Writers
    Conserve Your Energy
    Important Timesavers
    My Best Advice
    Live Your Life
    Conclusion: Write Your Own Ending

Five: Teaching in Action: Lesson Essentials

    Five-Day Lesson Plans
    Secrets of Second Graders-Narrative Writing Lesson
    Heart Poems-Poetry Writing Lesson
    Procedural Writing-Informational Writing Lesson
    Hero Writing-Lesson
    Persuasive Writing-Lesson
    Teaching Points: Conference Video Clips


    1. Examining Beliefs AboutWriting

      Communications to Parents

    2. Letter to Parents About Raising Expectations (Grade 1)
    3. Suggestions for Parents

      Writing Forms

    4. Understanding Nonfiction
    5. Writing History
    6. Poetry Writing Rubric
    7. Word Work Sentence Worksheet
    8. Writing Strengths/Next Steps
    9. Writing Rubric

      Editing Expectations

    10. Grade 2, Editing Expectations
    11. Grade 4, Editing Expectations
    12. Genre Characteristics
    13. Favorite Poetry Books
    14. Weekly Professional Conversation Guidelines

    Brief Definitions of Terms


Companion Resources

Classroom Writing Forms and Information

Genre Characteristics Chart

Student Writing Examples as Models
Download and share these with your students: