Teacher-Guided Writing Lessons: Everything You Need to Know
These are class works (consisting of writing instructions) that are based on the current needs of the students. It focuses on particular areas of written language, including punctuations and spellings that the learners are not accustomed to, as well as the wider aspects of language, including paraphrasing, prewriting, and editing.
It can be considered a mini-lesson for a small group of students that have been grouped based on the teacher’s observations and have similar writing needs or face similar challenges. The teachers’ time with the group depends on their ongoing formative assessment processes. Effective writing teachers typically collaborate with students, devising apprenticeships for them via guided practice.
Thus, explicit teaching should be part of the writing instruction, where teachers intervene to model and prompt and then withdraw to push students to make decisions and find solutions to problems while writing. Ideally, teacher-guided writing lessons should make good writing elements and strategies noticeable and accessible to inexperienced writers. Thus, ‘guided’ in teacher-guided writing lessons stands for the support students get from their teachers while they write.
The focus of mini-groups in teacher-guided writing lessons could be varied. For instance, after taking a close look at a celery stalk, students may be asked to write an informative text on it. While one may decide to start with how the stalk can be snapped in two, another may decide to start with how it looks or how it’s used in celery soup. After they discuss their ideas with their teacher, the students can start writing their own pieces, and the teachers will intervene and help where they need guidance.
Another instance could be where the mini-group focuses on these aspects:
- authorial (like adding anecdotal details, such as why or how in an explanation, expanding noun groups to add more details to an information report, assessing vocabulary choices to portray a character’s appearance or review their behavior, etc.)
- secretarial (like focusing on spelling when revising the write-up, enclosing direct speech in single or double quotation marks, deciding about ending punctuation, etc.)
Owing to the small size of these groups, teacher-guided writing lessons offer explicit scaffolding to individual students and facilitate in-depth, meaningful conversations of the teacher with each student. Such lessons should be flexible in nature and molded to meet the students’ current writing and learning needs. Teacher-guided writing lessons are most successful when used daily with the same group of students, ideally for several consecutive weeks.