Writing Every Day in Every Classroom - Buckeye Community Hope Foundation

Writing Every Day in Every Classroom

Writing Everyday in Every Classroom

By Joni Byus, Accountability and School Improvement Representative

As the BCHF School Improvement and Compliance team members have been visiting schools for the biannual reviews this fall, school leaders have expressed a desire for information about how to incorporate writing into every classroom. It is imperative that students are writing every day in every class. Writing stamina needs to be established and nourished. The more students write, the more stamina they build to be able to write for longer periods of time on assignments and assessments.    

Psychologist, K. Anders Ericsson, states in his research on deliberate practice: “Dedicated guitar players tend to lock themselves in a room, and spend a whole day practicing the tunes or techniques that give them the most trouble… you could call it deliberate practice. Writers should take example. “(2016).  Deliberate practice has five principles: 

  • Talent is not enough. Practice is the difference between good and great 
  • Expert performance is hard work and requires repeated actions 
  • Focus – break it into manageable parts 
  • Goal setting and perseverance is key 
  • Feedback in the moment is essential 

Often teachers avoid writing because they are unsure about how to teach writing, how to assign writing or how to assess it. Rest assured, that no one is asking content area teachers to teach writing in addition to teaching the content. Teachers can use writing to assess learning and for students to demonstrate their thinking. However, students should never think that writing is only important in their English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms. Writing is a life skill that they will all need in their futures.     


Writing is thinking. Teachers can use writing to help students analyze, process, evaluate, organize…all higher order thinking skills. Writing assists students with understanding of content in the classroom. As they take notes or respond to questions, it allows students to include that tactile component that many students need. When students write about what they are learning, it allows their teacher to determine where the level of understanding is for that skill. Writing allows students to share their thoughts in a way that includes all students. Once the students have a published writing, they may choose to share with the class or in a partner share. This will increase the students’ confidence in their abilities.  

In addition, writing teaches students to use rubrics, and to understand process. It teaches them to plan, organize, draft, revise, edit, and publish. Writing even assists with teaching sound-spellings – students are then able to decode words that previously would have been too difficult. Writing allows the conventions of the language to be taught in the context of what the students are writing, instead of in isolated grammar lessons. 


Where should teachers begin? If teachers are not currently incorporating writing skills in their classrooms daily, ask them to begin with whatever writing strategy will enhance the content area as well as given the teacher the ability to check for understanding, assess formatively, or assist student learning by using a multi-sensory approach. If teachers are currently including writing in their classrooms every day, they could explore additional, creative ways to enhance student learning and build writing stamina.   


This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but this list is a way to start this process with the teaching staff.    

*Bell Work/Bell Ringers/Do Now/Lesson Starters: If you are concerned about trying to fit one more thing in your lesson, include writing as a part of the lesson that is already happening. You can adjust what they are doing for the beginning of the lesson to include writing about what they are learning, summarize the learning from yesterday, or check for background knowledge. 

*Shared Writing: This is an effective way to model the expectations for writing and allow the students to be a part of the writing process. Students and teacher write together. The finished product is then able to be used as an anchor chart, to serve as a reference point. 

*Open Writes: Ask students to write as much as they can as well as they can. Set a timer and gradually increase the amount of time to build stamina.   

*Journaling: This method may be used in many ways. In an ELA classroom, it could involve reading a passage(s) and writing to a prompt with multiple paragraphs. In other content areas, it could be a check for comprehension from the previous lesson or as a comprehension check at the end of a class period.   

*Exit Tickets: This may be one sentence that answers an open-ended question about the lesson. Explain the steps you used to solve a word problem. Explain how a math problem could be solved in another way. 

*Extended Response and Short Answers: This may be included as a part of summative assessments using an open-ended question. 

*Math and Science: Writing may be used to find out how students solve math problems or science experiments. Students should be able to write out their thought processes. 

*Explicit Writing Instruction: On nationwide tests, only about 25% of students can write at a proficient level. One major cause of this is that writing is assigned, but not explicitly taught. We need to make certain that our students are taught the skills and expectations necessary to write proficiently.  

*3-2-1: Write three things you learned in class today; two questions you still have; one way you could use this new knowledge outside of the classroom. 

*RAFT: Role; Audience; Format; Topic (Example: Write a letter home to your parents from a Confederate soldier about your experiences in the Battle of Gettysburg).   

*Two-column journals: This connects comprehension with emotions about the reading. On the left side of the paper, students write down facts they learned from the reading. On the right side, students write down reactions (I don’t understand this; this is weird; I never knew this) 

*Write critiques: Art; Music; Historical Events; A Book 


School leaders must hold teachers accountable for incorporating writing every day in every classroom. Leaders must be specific about the expectations and be prepared to scaffold this learning for teachers as well.  

 One principal in our portfolio started out by requiring that bell ringers would be used in every classroom every day. That principal then did a short professional development session (5 minutes) in a staff meeting before the week began. The principal focused the walkthrough observations for the week on just the bellringer. Randomly throughout the next two weeks, the school leader selected student samples, wrote quick feedback notes to students, and read sample passages over the morning announcements. She praised the students who were writing seriously and highlighted teacher bell ringers that were effective.  Two weeks after that first step, the principal moved on to add another writing strategy: Exit Tickets. The same process was then used: short PD on the topic; walkthroughs focused on exit tickets AND bellringers, and feedback to students. By the end of the grading period, the school leader had introduced four different writing strategies to use in all classrooms.   

The key is accountability and monitoring. Students need immediate feedback as do teachers on their use of the writing strategies.   


Buckeye Community Hope Foundation provides the perfect challenge for students in grades 3-12 to practice their writing skills. The 8th Annual BCHF Writing Challenge was just launched on November 30th. The challenge includes writing prompts for Grades 3-5; 6-8; and 9-12. Each school can submit one entry per grade level. The prompts are all scored on the Ohio State Test rubric so that teachers can prepare their students for the OSTs as well as participate in the challenge.  Entry packets will be available on the BCHF website: www.bchf.org and entries are due on March 15, 2023. Come join the challenge!    

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