Dear Suzy,

I wish I loved to teach writing. I think my kids are struggling because I do not like it myself. So, once again I need to pick your magnificent brain. We are supposed to be using xxxx xxxxxx writing workshop. I hate to say it does not work for me. So, I am really slacking on teaching my kids. The program isn’t structured enough for me. My kids do not even have a basic concept of putting enough information together in written form to make any sense. It is PAINFUL for me! In fact there is so much emphasis here in teaching to the test, that writing is easy to skip. I know that I am doing a huge disservice to my kids. Can you point me in a direction that may work for someone who does not like to teach writing? When I was in your class, you always made it fun, but I also feel like I learned HOW to write.


Dear DDW,

It's always good to hear from you. Don't feel bad. Writing is difficult for even the best writers. Teaching writing is even more difficult. It is 50% inspiration and 100% perseverance, so DON'T STOP!

It takes can't rush the final product...if you do, you will hate it and the kids will know their writing stinks and hate it, too.

You absolutely can't start by letting them write a whole composition independently. It's too overwhelming to try to revise and edit a whole piece of JUNK.

Basically, they must work from a story map and they must elaborate (with MA'S CAVE SOAP--described in my study guide for The SOS File).

To introduce writing, I take all day (Mass Practice):
1. reading a short story, My BEST suggestion is to use The SOS File for teaching story writing. Analyze the short stories to show how they fit the story map and the elaboration acronym, MA'S CAVE SOAP.
2. analyzing it,
3. doing a class-dictated writing on the overhead projector or SmartBoard, brainstorming their suggestions, creating a story map, showing them how to edit and revise as you go (purposely making mistakes for them to catch and edit), and then having them recopy the finished writing,
4. helping them make a new story map, and
5. guiding their writing. (I required that they do an introduction and get my feedback before writing the next paragraph so we didn't have to edit and revise two pages of hopeless jibber jabber.)

Guess which step is MOST important...and takes the MOST TIME? # 3

That FIRST day's Mass Practice prepares them to write more independently, often, in shorter times. (Distributive Practice)

Use my unit on The SOS File you remember MA'S CAVE SOAP from my workshops? I think it's the best elaboration technique that I ever created for unit for The SOS File explains it. Use a story map for organization. Together, it's simple and fun and you're safe even as you serve the "teaching to the test" mentality.

You can do it!!

Keep walkin' in the sunshine and passin' it along!

If YOU would like to purchase my study guide for The SOS File, you can get it instantly for $11.95 by clicking here.

Order the book by clicking HERE. I promise you'll love it!