Grade Appropriate units:
The following Writing with Writers units are appropriate for
students in grades 912. Follow the following links for
specific guides for each unit:
- Biography Writing
- Descriptive Writing
- Myth Writing
- Poetry Writing with Karla Kuskin
- News Writing
- Speech Writing
- Writing a Book Review
The structure of the lesson remains the same for all the above
genres and each can be completed in 811 class periods.
Students in grades 912 should use the Writing with Writers
program to improve writing skills in any or all of the above mentioned
genres. Students will read examples, brainstorm, work in groups,
write, edit, and rewrite their work before submitting it for online
Depending on the topic, you can use the Writing with Writers
program to promote cross-curricular activities. For example, you
can use Biography writing to incorporate history or speech writing
to incorporate civics.
Project Introduction (1 Day)
Introduce the Writing with Writers component with a class discussion
on the genre.
For Biography: Write the definition of biography
on the chalkboard: "A written account of someone's life."
Ask students to discuss what this means. Have students name some
titles that they know and the defining aspects of the biography,
for example principal figure, influences, important dates, significant
events, and valuable contributions. Explain to students that they
will be writing biographies of specific people. Depending on your
curriculum, you may want to have a list of people for students
to write about, or you can have students pick their own person
from a U.S. President, to a famous sports star, or a family
For Descriptive Writing: Introduce students to the descriptive
writing unit by asking them what kind of writing requires the
use of descriptive writing. Encourage them to think about letter
writing, stories, magazine articles, journals, and even email.
Prompt them further to talk about why good descriptions make writing
better and more interesting. Explain to students that they will
be writing their own piece of descriptive prose. Depending on
your curriculum, you may want to assign a specific kind of descriptive
writing like a journal or letter, or you may allow students to
pick their own format.
For Myth Writing: Introduce the word "myth"
to the class, and ask students to offer definitions of the term.
Then, encourage students to brainstorm myths that they may know.
Have volunteers write examples on the chalkboard.
Poetry Writing with Karla Kuskin: Invite students to discuss
what they know about poetry. Go through a book of well-known poems
with students, and read some favorites aloud. Have students discuss
poems that they know. Ask: How are poems different from stories?
News Writing: Hand students prints of Scholastic News's
daily story and ask them to read it and sum up
the main points. As a class, discuss the news and how the article
is written. Tell students that they will be writing their own
Speech Writing: Ask students to give examples of times
that they might have to give a speech for example, a class
project or during show and tell. Think of other times people may
have to make speeches for work, when running for political
office, etc. Explain to students that they will be writing and
recording their own speech for this project.
Writing a Book Review: Take a poll by a show of hands
on how many students have read a book. Then ask, how many student
have told someone about the book they read. Pick on one hand,
and ask that student to give a short summary of the book he or
she is reading. Ask students if the summary made them want to
read the book. Explain to students that this is called a "book
review" and that each of them is going to write a book review
of their own.
Following the Steps (12 Days)
Divide students into same-level reading groups to read through
the first steps of the unit. If you have limited computer access,
print out a copy of the steps for individual students to read.
After the introductory discussion, you may choose to hand out
the author's biography for individual students to read. Discuss
why students think it is important to find out about the author
of a book they are reading.
Following the Step-by-Step Writing Process (23 Days)
Each Writing with Writers component gives a step-by-step program
for writing their separate genres. Divide students into same-level
reading groups to read these steps online. If you have limited
computer access, print out a copy of the steps for individual
students to read. See below for individual project tips.
For Biography, News, Book Review, and Speech Writing
As each group of students complete the steps, hand each a copy
of the 5Ws graphic organizers to gather information
on their subjects. Encourage students to brainstorm their biography
subjects, news article, or speech topics within their group as
they fill in their organizers separately.
For Descriptive, Myth, and Poetry Writing
For students writing descriptive pieces and poems, hand them a
copy of the Observation Chart graphic organizer
and instruct them to write descriptive words that work for their
descriptive piece or for their poem.
Write Your Own (45 Days)
Allow students time to go over the steps and add to their graphic
organizers. You may want to collect the filled out graphic organizers
to review and make suggestions before handing them back to students.
Direct students to write their own example of the chosen genre.
Give them time to write and also remind them to review any appropriate
editing steps so they can re-write. This process should be done
in a word processing document that can be saved.
Editing and Review (1 Day)
When students are done with their drafts, have them exchange papers
with a peer for comments. Partners can write their comments on
the draft itself. Then have students follow the revision checklist
as they revise their writing. Make the Assessment
Rubric's guidelines available to students as they revise their
1. Review the author's tips and check to make sure you've used
as many as possible.
2. Read your peer's comments. Remember, you do not have to include
all of the comments in your final draft.
3. Read your piece with an objective eye. Does it make sense?
Does it flow well?
4. Does it meet each requirement in the Writing Rubric?
5. Check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.
Publish Online (12 Days)
Once they've completed their revision, have students follow directions
to publish their work online. Encourage students to use the Preview
option to proofread their pieces one more time before submitting.
Students can print this preview to hand in for teacher assessment
or they can print their word document. They should also hand in
their completed graphic organizer.
Once students have submitted their essays, wrap up the lesson
with a group discussion.
- What are the most important lessons you might learn from
the way this person lived?
- An older person or mentor is important in shaping the lives
of others. How is this true of the person in the biography you
- What do you think it means to be a hero? Was your person a
- What are some words you learned that are good descriptive
- What is the difference between descriptive writing and just
writing a story?
- How does observing our daily lives help in writing good descriptions?
- Why do people write myths?
- Why did you pick the natural phenomenon for your myth?
- How did your daily observations help in writing your myth?
Poetry Writing with Karla Kuskin
- What kinds of poems do you like? How has those poems effected
your own poetry?
- Why should you make observations of your daily life help in
- What were some of the difficulties in editing and re-writing
- How did you get your idea for your news story?
- Why do you need to ask a lot of questions to write a good
- Can you think of news articles that are not "fair"?
Why is it hard to be objective as a reporter?
- How are some of the ways that you can get your audience's
attention when writing a speech?
- What are some of the differences you found in writing a speech
compared to writing an essay?
Writing a Book Review
- When you edited your peer's book review, did it make you want
to read that book? Why?
- How did you write your review without telling everything about
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