7 Ways To Teach Writing

When students need help with their writing, HERE are 7 THINGS TO DO!

It’s that time of the year where you’ve bonded with your students, they understand your class rules and how it functions, and now – now the tests are looming.

We need to prepare students for their standardized exams which usually incorporate some form of writing. So let me share 7 quick tips on how to get the most out of student writing.


In order to get your budding writers to understand the writing process, I suggest getting them to understand the foundation of an essay. Yes, parts of speech and parts of a sentence.

Let em have it: subject and verb. Instruct them on how it works, then have them stack ’em up and turn them into paragraphs. Finally have them move on to essays.

Some teachers do this in the reverse: from whole to small parts of an essay [an inverted triangle], but working from sentence structure to a full-blown essay works easier for me and my students; chances are it’ll work for you too! Try it!


Show students what good writing looks like? You want them to write good fiction, good letters, good speeches, good technical essays? Then, show them! Get exemplars for students to read, analyze, and mimic!

You can always use these for references once students have moved on. “Oh, do you remember how Martin Luther King, Jr. used X?” “Do you see how Thoreau started off with X?” These remind students of where their writing should be and how to get them back on track.

Show students how to write: DEMONSTRATE IT!


Show students what you want them to accomplish. Yes, you’ve used MENTOR TEXTS, but now they’ll see you writing with them.

One way I demonstrate how I want students to write is to write on my whiteboard as we brainstorm new ideas. Students see what I’m doing and they’re involved in my stylistic, diction, and content choices.

Another way I demonstrate writing is to THINK ALOUD. As we work on the chalk, white, or SMART board, students hear me ask questions and think about my next writing moves; they get to see and understand – and participate – in my choices to make the writing better.


Can you imagine not knowing where else to go with your ideas? Our students run into this all the time, so we need to help them out! As they’re writing, we encourage and propel their thoughts though providing SENTENCE STARTERS and STOCK LANGUAGE.

Brandon could never get his thoughts out. He’d be able to get a few words on the page, but after I taught him how to use STOCK LANGUAGE and vocabulary, his thoughts started flowing. I’m telling you – it works!


Many times as English Language Arts [ELA] teachers, we limit the vocabulary we teach to what’s available in students’ reading. Students would then only be able to use those few words in those limited contexts.

Adding a regular list of VOCABULARY WORDS to their curriculum gives students a better chance to understand what they read and how they write.

Remind them to include, include, include as they write for you, whether it be bell ringers and class openers, assignments, essays, short response assignments, or exit tickets, let them use the words. Guess what?! Sometimes, you don’t need even check each and every proper use of the words, as the students use it, they’ll start to realize the proper usage. They’ll be so excited as they learn new words!


As we foster budding writers, students will need scaffolding! They’ll need to know how and where to place words and punctuation; this is where a template comes in. This empowers students, as they fill in their words and produce a product for you!

Rubrics also make our reading of student work easier. Utilizing these rubrics allows both students and teacher to know when the writing is great or not up to par.

Does this evidence make sense here? Did Sally answer the prompt? Is the use of the semi-colon correct? All these questions can be answered swiftly with a rubric.

Watch out, however, rubrics may limit creativity and have students only giving what’s on the list of ‘right’ things to do; they may limit their own writing greatness!


So I walk around and meet them where they are. You! You guessed it! I sit with them sometimes. Also, I have workshop style essay exams. I would literally help them structure their introductions, body, and conclusions as they test.

“Nope, that can’t work there!” “Yes! Your second sentence works better here; I love it!” This can be heard in my class as students all work individually.

As well, Writer’s Workshops projects allow students to use what they’ve learned about writing in a fun, adventurous way! Our students don’t have to be relegated to only writing essays to show their mastery of writing skills, they can actually utilize their skills in projects that cater to them and their levels of interest and writing! Watch your students become WRITING SUPERHEROES!

Successful hero wears red mask and cape, raises arms, shows biceps, demonstrates courage and strength, looks serious and confident, poses against blue wall. Real superhero ready to help you.

Can we get our students to write and write well? Most definitely! Scaffolding from parts of speech, sentence structure, and paragraph building to full-blown essays and research papers can happen! Use these tips as I did and you’ll see greater writers develop right in front of your eyes!

Maximize Your Prep Time

Making the Most of Lesson Planning Time

Confused bearded teacher. Unsure of what to do once his planning period has begun. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how:

We’ve all been there – the wanting to get something accomplished, but nothing comes to us to get anything productive done? We have the time and the desire to do it, but we are just overwhelmed and aren’t sure exactly where to start. Well, here are a few things I do that could help you tremendously.


Whether you prep or plan by yourself or with your grade level peers, you need to know what is expected of you. Now, this goes without saying that your state, district, school, and even your own students have requirements and expectations that you must meet.

Your state, district, and school, usually provide standards [some use the national Common Core Standards].

With this vital information, go into these prep sessions with what you expect your students to accomplish by the end of the lesson. Are are expected to teach the ‘CH’ sound, polynomials, how to sketch still life, the Declaration of Independence,’ or how to write a paragraph. Once you know what you are expected to teach at this time of the semester or year, then you have the beginning of your road map to your prep time journey.

Know What’s Expected by your State, District, School, Department, and even your students.


No! I am not a fan of teachers using their personal time to plan BEFORE they actually go to their planning period on campus. Can you believe that’s expected in my building? Sheesh!

I do, however, believe that you need to have an idea of what you want to accomplish in your classroom that day, week, month or the period of time you’re planning for.

When you begin planning, go ahead and write your ideas of content down, activities you plan to use or you were thinking about, materials needed, etc. This knowledge allows a more streamlined and focused prep period.

Organize your week’s and day’s agenda, either in your head or typed/written up. List all the standards, activities, time required, students needs (IEPS, lower learners, advanced students, etc.]. Having all this information ready beforehand gives you a shorter time in your prepping period.


hEY! gO grab your materials, your laptop, your copies, your list of standards! You don’t want to have to keep getting up and randomly opening up documents and searching emails from your lead teacher to start planning for the week of instruction.

Go ahead and bring these items or at least know where they are when needed.

Things like a calendar of school events, holidays, and activities that may impede a lesson, resources you need to scaffold instruction, list of academically advanced students, list of supplemental resources, etc. are all needed to help make your time of planning more effective and more efficient.

I once had a co-worker who always had to go to her classroom to ‘get something’ in order for us to prep our lessons together as a department [we prepped in one teacher’s classroom]. This slowed us down and inconvenienced each of us who could have been grading or completing other tasks in our own rooms. Don’t be that teacher.

Relax and relate with your Colleagues.


WHOA! Can you imagine finishing up your planning sessions early, so you can accomplish other tasks within a reasonable time? That would be AMAZING!

Another thing that schools and districts neglect or forget is that teacher reflection is key. Teachers need time to sit and reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, or what needs to be done to improve student retention, student behavior, etc. in their classrooms.

Likewise, teachers need to reconnect with other teachers. Especially in the upper levels, teachers get so used to working by themselves, they forget that they all share the same students. Getting key information about what works with little Peter in their class could possibly help with little Peter or even jolly Johnny in other classes.

Yes, Ideas can come about from reconnect with others in your building!

Studies show that teachers feel isolated, so just shooting the breeze and interacting with other instructors while in the building without the pressure of planning a lesson garners connection and insight into the learning situation.

When teachers reflect and reconnect with other educators in their building, they can then…you guessed it…relax.

A relaxed educator always does better educating our students. When stress is alleviated, the teachers shine! Yes, Ideas can come about from teachers who are relaxed. When Ms. Smith and Mr. Thomas can sip on their coffee and catch up on the latest news item or make that phone call to secure that doctor’s appointment for an ailing spouse, it leads to a better day of teaching and instructing.

I mean – isn’t that what it’s all about?


Encouraging Responsibility in Students

Yes, taking responsibility and developing these skills are needed today!

The Angry Teacher

So I had a conversation with some teachers in my building and some were stressed out, as we all are. So we were all comparing our reasons for the stress; these reasons stemmed from belligerent students and their parents, tone-deaf administration or more district expectations without compensation or caring. With that said, what a few of the teacher then commented, threw me for a loop.

It was at the end of the grading period, and one teacher said, she had to start filing all the students’ assignments in their classroom folders. I was like “What?!” But, that wasn’t even the clincher!

Another teacher chimed in, “I know right. I’ve gotta get that done today!”

Laides and Gents, I have a problem with teachers filing students work themselves, and here’s why: we need to teach students to be responsible.

I chalked it up to these teachers not knowing better, so I…

View original post 784 more words

Encouraging Responsibility in Students

So I had a conversation with some teachers in my building and some were stressed out, as we all are. So we were all comparing our reasons for the stress; these reasons stemmed from belligerent students and their parents, tone-deaf administration or more district expectations without compensation or caring. With that said, what a few of the teacher then commented, threw me for a loop.

It was at the end of the grading period, and one teacher said, she had to start filing all the students’ assignments in their classroom folders. I was like “What?!” But, that wasn’t even the clincher!

Another teacher chimed in, “I know right. I’ve gotta get that done today!”

Laides and Gents, I have a problem with teachers filing students work themselves, and here’s why: we need to teach students to be responsible.

I chalked it up to these teachers not knowing better, so I thought about it. Let me help because maybe they just don’t know.

Here are some ways to encourage responsibility in students:

Have students help each other while you attend to those who really need re-enforcement and remediation.

Assign tasks to students, individually or even as a class. Just like my example above, when students have work that needs to be filed, I have THEM do it! I tell them exactly what to put in their classroom folders, and they are able and capable to do it.

You may want to do it by date, type of assignments, etc, but your students can and will file their own work. Yes, even the most problematic students will work for you. I teach high school, so maybe that’s an easier set of students, but I never have to stress about filing at the end of the grading period. Try it!


We all know that organization is a part of growing up and adulting and a needed skill that we learn over time, so lets start our kids out with developing this skill.

Students have to remember when and where and what items to use for each class, so we’re already on our way to teaching organization.

I have my students, yes high schoolers, keep a binder that they must bring to class. They store and [ORGANIZE] their notes, handouts, vocabulary lists, tests, quizzes and exams, author sheets, project, and other important paperwork in these huge binders.

As students must organize their lives outside of the classroom with test scores, birth certificates, due dates, receipts, etc. this one act helps them to clean up theirs (see what I did there?) 🙂

Another thing I do that I suggest you do as well is have students use the same heading on their assignments. My students must place their names, class period, date, and the title of the assignment on the upper left-hand corner of their page, so that I [and them] and easily recognize the assignment and date something was assigned; I’m telling you–it’s the beginning of greatness!

Getting students to use STICKY NOTES, selective highlighting, note taking and annotation, locating designated portions of the class for supplies, dropping off homework, etc. are all ways to develop organizational skills in students.


Yes, I said what I said! Have students mess up! Some students will pass out, if they do something that’s not worthy of an A, or they do something that they’ve never done before and do not do their best work when completing it! However, this is something that will be good for them.

Students need to know that in the process of developing, there will be moments of messing up and doing something poorly to become better later.

For instance, as I try to get students to organize their essays, and I give them constructive criticism, they panic (oh, did I mention I teach Honors and Advanced Placement students as well?) They’ve always been great at being students, so they are on the verge of passing out when you tell them that this needs revisiting and you can fix this to get a better grade.

Hold students accountable too, when they mess up! As much as we will encourage and share our stories of failure to relate to the students, we must remind them that failure is a part of success!

I will continue to remind my students that “guys, until we learn to how to use sticky notes or planner, than we will not be perfect. The more we practice, the better we’ll get.”

Encourage students to help other students


Indeed, students need to help others for community service hours to graduate (at least in my district). So they tend to do this; however, they have the wrong motivation!

We need to encourage kids to want to help others from the bottom of their hearts. I believe this helps them develop a sense of responsibility to and for others.

They tend to want to keep helping even after they’ve reach their require community service hours for graduation.

In my class, I have toy drives, clothes drives, food drives, volunteering at a local homeless shelter and a local pet shelter, cleaning up the community…things that will mean something to them. They get to directly see how their help benefits someone else. That’s a good and life-changing thing.

Now, parents, older siblings, mentors, teachers, please allow students to learn to be responsible through these 4 actionable ideas. They’ll be the better for it!

Hey, did I miss anything? Drop it in the comments below.

Drop The Act!!

In England it is against the law to sleep on the streets! According to the vagrancy act anyone sleeping in a public place or begging for survival, can and will be held in custody.

Drop The Act!!

Yay, we’re rolling on down to the end of the year!

Christmas tree with decorations on a bokeh lights background

Thanksgiving is here and the Winter Holidays are not far behind! I can’t wait for the break, and I’m sure you can’t either! #teachertired

Let’s enjoy this beautiful time of year with family, friends; while, getting to know our students as well.

With the TPT CYBER MONDAY SALE next week, November 29th and 30th, visit the store – I’ve got everything on sale!

Pick up FUN, INTERESTING, and ENGAGING items from The-Angry-Teacher-Store that will make the rest of your year seamless!

CHRISTMAS related products:





One Full Year of High School Vocabulary Lists & Activities





EVERGREEN Classroom favorites:









Using the Writing MANTRA [Teaching Paragraph Writing]









CaN’t WaIt tO StArt a CoNVersAtion!


~ Richard


It’s always a good thing to get a comment or review on a product. Customers let you know exactly how they feel about their purchase, and that tells you two things: (1) my product is great! I need to make more just like it, or (2) my product needs work. I will need to revamp or avoid making others like it.

With that said, sometimes customers to do not use all that’s available to them to properly assess a product before they make a product or leave a comment or review. This is why I’ve made this blog post.

If we know anything about TeacherspayTeahcers, we know that descriptions and previews are always available. So it was amazing to me that a few weeks ago, I was left a product review where the customer said “the product wasn’t what she thought it was.”

That’s when I thought I had to create a Youtube Video [see below] to help customers (future and present) understand what a LESSON ACTIVITIES product is.

A LESSON ACTIVITIES product is a document [PowerPoint or PDF] that identifies several activities for teachers to use with their classes. Once they’ve read a literary piece, they can choose any one of the activities to inform, educate, motivate, or entertain students.

The activities range from Background information on writer or time period of the piece, vocabulary, social media, creative art assignments, group projects to individual work and projects and exams and quizzes.

Indeed, these ARE NOT LESSONS! I do not want to throw a whole lot of standards, objectives, and formats at you. I work in an Inner city school where our District is constantly pushing into our classes and dictating to us on what AND how to teach little Mary and Joseph in our classrooms; I’m not that guy!

My LESSON ACTIVITIES is for you to use at YOUR discretion.

If you are a seasoned teacher who needs to spruce up your lessons, adding new activities to something you always teach, then MY LESSON ACTIVITIES Product is for you. You may DIFFERENTIATE activities for your classrooms and, once again at your discretion. Some of these products have anywhere from 25 – 40+ assignments, you may choose any one activity in any order you wish!

If you are a brand spanking new or novice instructor, then these also work for you. If you were given lesson plans and now you need to hold students accountable for their part of the learning or you need to add activities so you won’t lose their interest, then these LESSON ACTIVITIES products work for you as well. Activities will range from puzzles to research to story maps to literary criticisms and more.


What my LESSON ACTIVITIES product is NOT is a pay-by-play of how your class will run. I’ve always been prided and I pride myself on interacting with my students, so I create these products on that premise: YOU WILL HAVE TO INTERACT WITH YOUR STUDENTS.

I make suggestions, but as you work with Mary and Martha in front of you daily, you know what types of activities will or will not work for you OR them. So I basically give choices.

If your students are good enough writers and you do not need to gauge their comprehension of the text that way, then give them a social media recordgin, group poster project, or an interview assignment to test their learning. You have to know what’s going on in your classroom and who the students are in it.

That’s what my LESSON ACTIVITIES are about – teachers who need that added bit of assistance getting their lessons to the next level, so that it will spur student engagement and spark their creativity…and YOURS!

Also, check out the video that delineates WHAT LESSON ACTIVITIES are and HOW to use ’em!

If you are curious to see what these are, check out my teacherspayteachers store and these products below:





Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “The Son from America” [Bundle] is asking your students to put their heritage over their money. It’s amazing!

This THE SON FROM AMERICA [BUNDLE] product allows students to look at themselves and our society. 145+ Slides, Several projects, Group Activities, Graphic Organizers, TASK CARDS assignments, Reader Response, Quizzes: Short Responses and Multiple Choice are activities in this product. This narrative encourages insightful responses from work. 10th – 12th Graders will love this prose and product. Check it out!


Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “The Son from America” is a short story in which Samuel, the protagonist’s son, returns to Lentshin, Poland, the village where his parents live, from America. While there, he learns that not everyone needs money to be happy. Cultures clash and heritage questioned, as this family’s future lays on the line.

This 10th – 12th grade canonized work allows students to look at themselves and and their heritage and backgrounds.