Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin, and we use tests as one way to measure students’ abilities to do both. In Connecting Reading, Writing, and Test-Prep Instruction, we examine how all three overlap.
- In Part I, “MAIN IDEA/ARGUMENT: Finding One vs. Building One,” we consider how to find a main idea/argument (reading and test-taking) vs. how to build a main idea/argument (writing).
- Part II, “CRITICAL READING AND ROBUST WRITING” provides code words for different types of critical reading questions, strategies for reading fiction and nonfiction, and suggestions for how to create more robust writing.
Effective Topic Sentences
The quest for effective topic sentences reminds me of an old TV commercial—I think it was for tacos—in which people argued, “I like making them!” vs. “I like eating them!” In the case of topic sentences, you must know how to FIND them before you can WRITE them. So this section addresses both angles.
Many of us grew up completing grammar exercises in textbooks or correcting sentences as part of the daily class routine. Now that we’re teaching, we find that those approaches don’t really work with our students. They might earn 100% on a quiz about dependent clauses, but they struggle to use them in their own writing. This page provides helpful resources and advice on how to improve your grammar instruction so that students actually apply the lessons to their own writing.
History Writing: DBQ Essays
While it’s true that DBQ (Document-Based Question) essays appear on the NY State Regents and AP History Exams, teachers—esp. history teachers—of EVERY grade should see them as a tremendous tool for teaching both content and critical thinking skills.
Journal Writing can be a great way to develop students' fluency and increase their comfort level with writing. This page offers guidance in how to establish consistent, productive routines for journal writing and includes links to hundreds of writing prompts.
This page includes key resources for teachers and student journalists. Many thanks to my friend Steve Chiger (former president of GSSPA) for these leads!
Literary Response Paper Guide
What do students need to know and be able to do in order to write an effective literary response paper? This section provides a guide complete with reading and writing tools. It also offers information on how to write a poetry explication essay.
NJ ASK Prep
This section is devoted to writing tasks on the NJ ASK (for grades 3-8): explanatory, narrative, open-ended response, and persuasive. For reading strategies, see READING.
NJ HSPA Prep
This section is devoted to writing tasks on the NJ HSPA (for grade 11): open-ended response, EXPOSITORY (NEW!!!), and persuasive. For reading strategies, see READING.
Research Paper Guide
Like any other major undertaking, research papers require extensive planning. This section provides you with both a teachers’ guide and a students’ guide so that you don’t miss any of the steps.
Not every writing assignment has to be about a text. This section provides materials for several engaging sociological writing projects. I have used them with HS students, but you can adapt them for MS students with more scaffolding.
Want to increase student motivation and confidence in writing? Trying to move students past producing bland prose in a variety of genres? Wondering how to integrate reading and writing instruction more effectively? Writers’ Workshop is an instructional model that can transform your classroom.
Why do we write? What are we trying to accomplish? What do students struggle with the most when they write? This section answers these questions and provides hands-on materials that will make your life easier.
Writing can take forever to grade. But it doesn’t have to. This section offers guidance on how to grade more efficiently with rubrics that work.