Great Reading on Writing


A Formative Assessment System for Writing Improvement: Great English Journal from Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher on how increasing the number of formative responses (and decreasing the amount of summative ones) can significantly improve one’s writing practice. A great piece for those looking to work smarter, not harder

The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar from the Atlantic

We are teaching kids how to write all wrong — and no, Mr. Miyagi’s rote lessons won’t help a bit from The Washington Post

How to teach writing sentences from Moving Writers

Great piece from NCTE on whether to give formative or summative feedback to writing

Grading ≠ Feedback, and Sometimes You Don’t Need to Do Either by Dave Stuart Jr.

Micro-Writing is Have a Macro Impact on Identity Development” A thoughtful case for the power of little “micro” moments of writing.

How to Get Students to Write More: Dave Stuart’s Pyramid of Writing Priorities

Studies and Reports

Writing Next: An extensive report on best practices in writing instruction from the Carnegie Corporation

Writing: A Ticket to Work or a Ticket Out of It: Report on writing and employment from the College Board and National Writing Project.

The Most Recent Nation’s Report Card on Writing 

Writing Instruction Resources

Online Resources

The Ultimate Guide to Student Writing Contests” from We Are Teachers. The Best list I’ve ever seen.

The Mentor Text Dropbox from Moving Writers

Quotes from Great Writers on the Act of Revision from The Atlantic

Assignments, Assessments, and other Instructional Materials

Matt’s First Writing Assignment: The Story of Your Writing. See the reasoning behind it here.

Matt’s first essay of the year and why he starts with it.

Matt’s protocol for getting students more comfortable with peer response

Writing Book Suggestions

Some of My Favorites

Best Practices in Writing Instruction by Steve Graham and Charles A. MacArthur

Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher

In the Middle by Nancie Atwell

Teaching for Joy and Justice by Linda Christensen

Rhetoric, Style, and Grammar Books

Rhetorical Grammar by Martha Kolln and Loretta Gray

Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams and Joseph Bizup

Other Important Books

Writing with Mentors by Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell

Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel Willingham

Drive by Dan Pink

And My Book…

While not exactly on writing (don’t worry lots of writing resources below), I have to mention my book for new teachers, Finding Success the First Year: A Survivor’s Guide for new Teachers, which follows my own first year and uses those experiences to serve as a foundation for a step-by-step guide on how to survive and thrive in that all important first year. Get it here.


First-year teachers frequently have difficulty finding a resource that is succinct, helpful, and all encompassing. Johnson’s Finding Success the First Year is the ticket. He has written an extremely practical book that addresses nearly every possible aspect of a first-year teacher’s experiences. The book is divided into clear units and chapters on topics such as secret weapons (e.g., enthusiasm, setting the right tone, respect, and power of positivity), relating to students, and more. The chapters are short and easy to read and include specific experiences (e.g., parent e-mails, participation, body language, picking one’s battles, and rituals) that first-year teachers will relate to readily. The author keeps a focus on student learning and engages in self-reflection, which makes his suggestions powerful. Each chapter ends with an exit slip that sums his writing well. In addition, there are some connections to other texts for further reading. First-year and preservice teachers will find this resource invaluable. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and practitioners. -American Library Association