Can You Teach Students to Enjoy Writing?

When it comes to teaching students how to write, a formula,

A graphic organizer and a structure are nice because it allows teachers to teach specifically, and it allows students to follow a format- almost like a recipe for success.

Unfortunately, this DOES NOT work!!!! I repeat this DOES NOT work! It may seem like it is working, but if students aren’t able to discover or experiment with the craft of writing- THEY WON’T LEARN It, they won’t make it their own, they won’t enjoy it, and if we aren’t helping students enjoy writing then we are missing the point.

“When I say form, I mean something closer to format- options for organizing and combining ideas, a menu of possible structures that will help writers communicate their message.” (Anderson, pg. 80).

I really liked this idea of a ‘menu’ for students. This reminds me of Grant Wiggin’s strategy transfer ideas. Throughout chapter 5, Jeff Anderson talks about allowing students to discover the forms and modes. This discovery leads to students collecting strategies and forms to use when they are struggling on their writing. He compares these strategies to a tool belt for students to pull from when they need help. Instead of raising their hand and calling for the teacher, they can pull from their tool belt and keep working. We create problem solvers- not dependent learners.

(Here are his tips for teaching strategy transfer which one includes- ‘giving many examples’)

It also reminds me of the CAFÉ menu from (CRAFT- Respond to Text) the Two Sisters. Runde’s Room is a blog I like to follow, as she has found a way to make her reading respond to textresponses from her students count. Her blog is a great one to read if you are wanting your Reading and Writing to intertwine throughout the year, which is a great way to get students to write about reading and read about writing.

“We learn the pattern of success through exposure to real texts and our analytical discussion of them.” (Anderson, pg. 82).

This is exactly what teachers do for students in the reading class, it makes sense that this strategy would also work for writing. Chapter 6 of Jeff Anderson’s 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know goes on to show the impact that this exposure can do for students. He models leads and conclusions by allowing students to ‘discover’ the different types of leads. By allowing students to discover through the exposure of high interest texts that students may or may not be familiar with, students will have concrete examples to imitate and model after. It becomes more genuine learning.

“Students should first have experience with the various text forms and features before being expected to read or write similar forms.”- Margaret Mooney

Here is a great list of mentor texts I found on Pinterest.

And here is a link to Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop units of study- condescended down to minilessons.


“I want my students to observe form as they read text.” (Anderson, pg. 82).

This is one of those strategies I have taught that has truly made a difference in my teaching and student comprehension. By skimming the text for form and gpsstructure by looking at the title and the first paragraph, students are able to identify the genre, author’s purpose, point of view and structure. With this knowledge, before going in to the close read, students know what their purpose as a reader.  Being a strong reader helps students become strong writers.  If students can identify form in reading, they can write the different forms. Anderson goes on to explain how comparing theme across genres can help students really understand the impact genre form has on the meaning of the text.

Here is a link to my TPT store with a power point I created to teach the GPS strategy with comparison to a concrete GPS system and practice opportunities for students from mentor texts.

DEAN- mnemonic devise used to understand author’s purpose or mode (Anderson, pg. 91).

I have always used PIE or even PIEE in my classroom, and I have seen it in other classrooms used successfully. DEAN makes a lot more sense because it includes the ‘narration’ and ‘description’ modes of writing.

D- Descriptive

E- Explains (expository)



These are the two most common modes of writing that are asked from our students- especially on STAAR. This will be the new mnemonic devise used in my classroom this school year, as I believe it is more specific to our state standards and district objectives. Gone are the days of eating and teaching PIE.

Collect and Categorize Leads/Conclusionsmentor texts

I love this strategy/idea because, again, it allows students to discover the different types of leads/conclusions that are used and are successful. He talks about using a Book Tasting to get students to read as many books as possible and as they do so, they are collecting leads from some of their favorite books. As they collect, there are students writing down the favorites on sentence strips. These strips are then placed on a large poster or strip of butcher paper. The students then NAME what the leads/conclusions have in common; dialogue, sensory, hint, shocking etc… This gives students access to a plethora of models to imitate which will allow students to discovery what preference they have for leads/conclusions for their own writing. Gretchen Bernabei uses truisms or info-shots as a way to ‘wrap up writing.’ (The Story of My Thinking, Bernabei, Hall. Pg. 99-105).

Youtube clip of Gretchen Bernabei teaching Truisms or life lessons truism

“By analyzing strong mentor texts, young writers explore, discover, and apply what makes good writing work.” Don’t be afraid to teach what works best for kids and what works best for instruction. Let students explore the behaviors of their favorite authors and take away the limitations that the state Standards and testing creates.  Allow students to enjoy themselves and discover the craft of writing.

Categories Teaching

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