“What type of writing should I begin my year with?”
“In what order should I teach the types of writing?”
“How do I spiral in writing concepts throughout the year?”
These are questions we see all the time from our EB Academics teachers, so we thought we’d lay it all out right here! Of course, many factors will go into your lesson planning decisions, including your school’s individual curriculum requirements and department’s calendar. But if you are in the situation of being able to choose where your writing lessons go, this is one way strongly we recommend placing them.
And before you dive in, please pardon all the links – we are just bursting with ideas of resources to share with you! You can of course use your own ideas in place of these.
We’re combining these months here because some schools begin in August and some start after Labor Day. Either way, we cannot recommend strongly enough to begin with narrative writing! Narrative writing is naturally fun and engaging, and if you choose personal narrative writing, then students can start off writing about a topic on which they are experts: themselves!
During this narrative writing unit, make sure to cover the basics such as leads, dialogue, and description.
Next, you can move into your first literature or nonfiction unit, using this as a time to reinforce literary analysis and argumentative writing skills.
October is a great time to begin the process of expository writing, building students’ summarizing and organizational skills. A problem/solution essay is a great place to start!
Of course, we also want to spiral learning. Take advantage of October’s spooky mood to do a short narrative activity toward the end of the month! Review the leads, dialogue, and description concepts that students recently learned. Figurative language and transitions are also great skills for narrative writing lessons.
Now you can use students’ knowledge of problem/solution writing to explore a similar type of writing: cause and effect. Just as students reinforced their problem/solution writing with summary and examples, they will do so here. If you are reading a class text right now, you can use events from the text as prompts for students, to help your lessons flow together.
Ah, December. You and the students are probably all thinking about the glorious break just ahead of you. Help students harness their holiday excitement with some themed descriptive writing! One of our very favorite ideas is to teach descriptive writing with a gingerbread house writing activity. If you’re interested in trying it, you can read more about it here.
And of course, let’s spiral again! Return to narrative writing with a brief holiday writing activity. You can also spiral in some of the concepts you just gave in the students’ descriptive writing lessons, pushing students to use strong, imaginative descriptions.
Okay, back to school. You’re rested, refreshed, and (hopefully) ready to dive back in! In addition to any reading unit you are currently in, January is a great time for some compare-and-contrast writing. You can link this to a text your students are reading; for example, students can compare and contrast characters, or compare and contrast their current story with another they have read.
Now that your students are experts in organizing their thoughts and using thoughtful word choice, it’s time to take things up a notch with persuasive writing. The possible topics are endless. You can create prompts based on class readings, current events, or controversial topics. This is the perfect time to teach or review ethos, pathos, and logos while reinforcing the concepts of claim and premise.
If you’re noticing students getting a little distracted in the middle of February, it may be because love is in the air. Harness their passion with a short narrative activity to give students a fun break. Well, they’ll think it’s a break – you’ll know it’s spiraling! If you’re looking for an engaging idea, you can read about a fun love letter activity here.
Now that you have just reviewed persuasive writing, you can take things further in March with argumentative writing. Because argumentative writing usually incorporates a counterclaim, you’ll want to review this. Additionally, evidence and justification will be crucial to students’ arguments, so lessons on this will also help. Just like persuasive writing, class readings, current events, and controversial topics are all great areas to draw from for prompts!
Now let’s spiral back to compare and contrast writing, but this time with a new twist: literary analysis! An easy and fun way to do this is by having students compare and contrast two poems. For example, students could compare and contrast Langston Hughes’ “I, Too” with his “My People.” Another classic pairing is Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Sympathy” and “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson. If you are currently reading a class text, a great idea is to find poems that speak to the text’s topics.
You’re getting closer to the end of the year, so it’s really time to step up the engagement. In addition to any reading unit you are doing at the time, consider incorporating another brief narrative writing activity to reinforce students’ figurative language and transition skills.This podcast shares a great idea for an end-of-the-year narrative activity.
You’re almost there! Time to wrap up your final literature or non-fiction unit, and maybe play a fun game. Celebrate all the writing strides you have helped your students make this year!
We hope this gives you an idea of how you can effectively incorporate writing lessons into your school year. Play around with it to make it fit for you, your students, and your school’s curriculum. And if you’re looking for support in planning and implementing all these great lessons, come join us! We have loads of resources and a whole community of teachers here to support you.
If you are already an EB teacher and would like to get your whole school on board, take a look at our schools option. It’s the perfect place to get everyone onboard.