Best Practice: Today’s Standards for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools
by Steven Zemelman, Harvey Daniels, and Arthur Hyde
“Virtually all the authoritative voices and
documents in every teaching field are
calling for schools that are more studentcentered, active, experiential, authentic,
democratic, collaborative, rigorous, and
Best Practices for 21st Century Learners in
Writing Workshop at Norwood:
• Student-centered: choice and responsibility in all
stages of the writing process
• Group work: peer editing with guided instruction and
sharing of published work
• Creativity: immersion in multiple genres
• Problem-solving: brainstorming, revision, content and
• Interdisciplinary connections: writing across
• Authentic experiences: Write to be read by different
Develop competent, creative, confident writers
Foster a love of writing
Expect and support student ownership of work
Write authentic pieces for an audience
Learn and apply grammar and mechanics in
• Writing lessons focus on specific skills and/or
• Student choice = motivation and enthusiasm
• Frequent opportunities to write to develop
• Students write to be read
• Publish several original pieces a year
• Students are actively involved
• Students generate ideas
• Students have clear
• Students have individual
conferences with teachers and
get feedback from peers
• Students have frequent
opportunities to write
• Students write for an audience
What Parents Can Expect
Exposure to a variety of genres
Authentic student writing
Struggles and challenges
Progress as writers
What Parents Can Do
• Reading helps writers.
• Notice good writing in books: strong verbs, vivid
description, realistic dialogue, figurative language. Possible
“I notice that…”
“This part makes me picture…”
“I like how that sounds…”
• Notice story moments in your everyday life.
• Enjoy and celebrate your child’s stories.
• Share your own writing!
Talk about your own writing process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Are you teaching grammar in writing workshop?
Answer: Yes. Grammar is intentionally and specifically taught, and expectations
build each year. Grammar and punctuation can be introduced or reinforced
during the mini-lesson at the start of writing class. The students are then
expected to correctly use the grammar convention in their writing. The grammar
taught in the lesson can be added to the student’s editing check-list. Writing
workshop emphasizes reinforcing grammar through writing. Worksheets are
deemphasized, but not eliminated, in favor of practicing grammar in the context
of the students’ writing projects.
Question: How much should I help my child edit his/her writing?
Answer: Talk to the teacher about what writing conventions and editing
strategies your child should consistently use. If appropriate, have your child read
his or her writing aloud to find and fix missing words or punctuation. Keep in
mind that mistakes are often difficult for children to see in their own writing.
Editing and spelling are developing skills. Revision (focus on content) is a separate
step from editing.