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How to Empower Student Writers this School Year

July 25, 2019

When you think of the word “empower,” what comes to mind? Well, I often think of helping someone find their voice or independence, or giving someone space to grow and shine. I sat down with the folks behind Empowering Writers at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia this year. Their enthusiasm and passion for teaching and learning were palpable. I can’t wait to share what they’ve developed for students and teachers.

Empowering Writers is a research-based program. It is designed to help teachers gain the background, skills, and strategies to strengthen writing instruction in their classroom. It also tackles the issue of teacher confidence with writing instruction. This is an issue I faced as a new teacher. Especially when figuring out how to model writing strategies for students with my own writing. And of course, how to support them in one-on-one conferences too.

The team at Empowering Writers offers professional resources for educators that include interactive workshops, teacher manuals, and other instructional materials. These tools were designed with K-8 educators in mind and address ways to cultivate a love of writing across the content areas. They also address needs-related to high-stakes standardized testing too.

A three-point approach 

The Empowering Writers program offers educators a three-point approach to taking writing instruction to the next level in the classroom. The first approach is the collection of teacher resources tailored to each grade level. This collection includes writing guides for different genres and support for students throughout the writing process. You can see an overview of the resources on this page, along with more detailed information on all of the teacher resources they offer.

In addition to teacher resources, Empowering Writers offers a variety of professional learning opportunities for teachers. Teachers can participate in full-day workshops, webinars, and coaching designed to support the implementation of the program. The team at Empowering Writers can also provide educators with access to a central space, called The Hub, for all of their professional development support materials.

The third approach to help empower your writers this year is direct to students. This student-facing content includes videos, virtual field trips, and more materials to bring into your lessons. You’ll find sample resources on this page to give you a picture of what they have to offer.

Learn how to empower student writers throughout the school year with these special resources for students in elementary and middle school.

Ways to Empower Student Writers

As you prepare for the upcoming school year and review your current units, there are a few things to keep in mind. You’ll want to decide on what’s working and what’s not in regards to writing instruction. So let’s take a look at a few ways to empower student writers this school year.

Start with a baseline assessment.  Get a good feel of where your students are in the writing process. This is no pressure!  All you want to establish is what your students can do as writers. From this baseline it is all about growth. Understanding the skills students have lets you meet them at the area of their greatest need. Students love to see where they started and how far they have come.

Model the thought process of an author. One way to develop confident writers is to model writing while verbalizing the thought process of the author. In this way you are creating an opportunity for students to see and hear how an author would address the writing task and the roadblocks that are an inevitable part of the process. Modeling builds vocabulary and language experiences and prepares students to write independently.

Share writing stories. In addition to sharing mentor texts, share the stories behind some of students’ favorite books, television shows, or movies. You might find a video interview with an author or screenwriter that talks about their journey as a writer. 

Empowering Writers Program

If you are looking to energize your current writing instruction in your classroom or know that there are gaps in the writing instruction in your school, take a moment to explore Empowering Writers. This program is full of ready-to-use content that addresses state standards and helps writers (both teachers and students) strengthen their craft.

Head over to Empowering Writers’ website to learn more about this program!

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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