Composition Tools

These innovative programs can help build student confidence in their writing skills

Composition is one of the main components of literacy instruction, encompassing and testing the reading, vocabulary, and comprehension skills of students. Doing all of this, paying individual attention to students in need, all while aligning curriculum with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), is a daunting task. As an advocate for language learning and the promotion of general literacy, Language Magazine has compiled the following list of writing resources for the upcoming school year:

Ready Writing
Built from scratch to support the CCSS, Curriculum Associates’ Ready Writing for grades 2-5 helps writers develop using a research-based, gradual-release instructional model that deconstructs the complex standards into discrete segments that build naturally over the course of a lesson. Each lesson starts with the study of a mentor text that models the structure and organization of exemplary writing. Students analyze the mentor text and learn how to use it as a model for their own writing, while receiving guidance from a writing buddy. These features work together to provide explicit modeling to help develop strong writing.

Step Up to Writing
Writing is key to learning across content areas and grade levels—so how can your school build a common language around writing that educators and students will be excited to use, whether instruction takes place in ELA classrooms or in specific subject areas?

Step Up to Writing is a flexible, research-validated program offering hundreds of strategies that can be taught in many combinations to teach every aspect of writing and the writing process. The new Fourth Edition prepares students to meet today’s rigorous writing standards and includes four bands targeted to students’ grade levels and subject-area learning in specific grades: Grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12.

Step Up to Writing strategies can be taught in sequence according to a fully developed, standards-aligned implementation plan or as the need arises for instruction in a particular writing skill or genre. Compatible with any core curriculum, the program includes embedded professional development, online video modeling and support tools, assessments, scoring rubrics, and progress monitoring materials.

Step Up to Writing is part of a comprehensive suite of print, digital, and blended instructional solutions and professional support services from Voyager Sopris Learning.

myON 3.0
This updated version of the myON digital classroom aid has been expanded to include writing tools which allow for a deeper connection between reading and writing, giving educators the option to assign essays, story summaries, checklists, and journal entries and to create charts. The program’s new project-based learning activities allow teachers to create dynamic, curriculum-rich writing projects and assign them to students for collaboration. Additionally, the tools have the capability to measure and track student writing with Lexile levels, providing a clear understanding of writing levels as well as any areas in which a student needs additional support. With 10,000 digital books and the additional focus on writing skills, myON 3.0 represents the largest change to the platform with nearly six million users since its launch in 2011.

WriteToLearn
Since he began using WriteToLearn, Pearson’s popular online literacy tool, more than five years ago, Jeff Pence, a 7th grade ELA teacher at Dean Rusk Middle School in Canton, Georgia, has seen a remarkable transformation in his students’ writing skills. Pence’s stats for the 2014-2015 school year via using the tool were some of his most impressive, including 129 writing students per day, 33 completed essays per student, and an astounding 25,542 drafts evaluated and returned to students with specific feedback. The program enables Pence to spend more time on helping students than on grading and reports. WriteToLearn implements rigorous learning goals and provides essay writing to build skills, summary writing to develop reading comprehension, and vocabulary exercises on select reading passages to expand students’ word knowledge. New capabilities make district-wide management even easier, as the tool features an updated teacher roster upload capability and a roster provisioning API (application programming interface) that allows districts to quickly and easily upload student information.

Get This Write
Get This Write is a self-paced online writing program that offers learners of American English learners the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of grammar rules and conventions of writing through controlled sentence-writing practice. It is a stand-alone program for high school through adult learners at the intermediate level and above. Its unique self-checking feature gives learners immediate feedback during their sentence-writing activities. Each lesson includes a well-planned sequence of activities that present rules, examples, and sentence-writing practice. Learners proceed to the next activity only when they have successfully completed the current one. This requires learners to read and follow directions carefully. A menu of lessons displays a learner’s record of completed activities and indicates what to do next. The lessons are carefully arranged and vary in difficulty. Each lesson includes grammar and vocabulary from previous lessons. This reintegration technique allows learners to strengthen their writing by continuing to use what they have already learned. All program users start at the beginning to fill in existing gaps in their knowledge of English. Get This Write is a unique combination of seemingly simple elements and features which appeals to those who learn by doing.

Writers INC
Writers INC is a secondary student handbook for college- and career- readiness. The book covers various writing forms: explanatory, narrative, creative, argumentative, and writing about literature. It provides concise, easy-to-use guidelines, annotated sample responses, and strategies to help students succeed in all their classes, from giving a speech in a history class to writing a science essay.

Write the World
Write the World, an online platform for high school students, invites teenagers from all over the globe to draft, revise, and publish their work in a creative and thoughtful community of young writers, teachers and authors. Based on the premise that writing is a social activity, the platform encourages young writers to actively contribute to the website’s international community. Students have the option to offer feedback on each other’s work, and through entering the site’s monthly competitions, young writers can get expert feedback on their drafts before submitting final pieces of writing. Developed by teachers, the platform offers a student-centered and rich curriculum, making it ideal for classroom use. Teachers can use the public site, connecting students to writers across the world, or manage their own groups, in which they can effectively manage private digital classrooms tailored to their specific needs.

Write Bright
Surveys show that teachers either assign writing tasks without teaching children to write or avoid the subject of writing entirely. However, the CCSS heavily emphasize writing instruction because it is essential in college and career success. Write Bright is a program developed for K-6 that brings a virtual writing coach into the classroom through video, to assist the classroom teacher. The two work together to guide students step-by-step in creating a writing piece. Creativity, voice, organization, focus, elaboration, and word choice are examples of skills students learn.

Core Learning's Online Writing Programs
Core Learning, a digital publisher, now offers a collection of K-12 English grammar and writing programs delivered online in self-paced, adaptive, and personalized learning formats. Programs include pre-assesssments, instruction with feedback, practice and writing activities, and post-assessments. Other online products in early literacy and courses in math, science, and social studies provide additional support for English language arts curriculum requirements. Programs are complemented by teacher resources. Online products are multi-device compatible including iPads, Chromebooks, and Android or Windows tablets.

Handbooks

WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS
These are richly illustrated, text-less books with lines on the pages for any student’s original story. For students, it’s an engaging and rewarding experience that elevates academic and personal confidence as each becomes a published author of their own storybook. For educators, they provide in-depth and groundbreaking, narrative and creative writing curricula and materials for all grade levels. Students become published authors receiving beautiful, hardcover and softcover copies of their books.

The program is research-based and executed during school hours or in expanded learning hours after school. The CCSS-aligned curricula inspire students of all ages to write, igniting self-expression and inventive storytelling while developing vitally important 21st-century skills.

Lesson plans, worksheets and resources (for grades K–12) help teachers ensure that students develop and master new skills as they increase their enthusiasm for writing. The professionally illustrated books tap into and expand students’ whole-mind, big-picture thinking, as they work collaboratively and on their own to transform their imaginations into written storylines.

The programs are designed to meet the needs and learning styles of every type of student including English Language Learners as they take ownership of the language and become fearless in their writing.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Common Core Writing Handbooks
HMH's handbooks for grades K–6 are designed for classroom writing instruction. The program’s two main components—a handbook that provides students with writing practice and a reference resource, and a teacher’s guide that supports instruction by providing mini-lessons for every handbook topic—help students produce the full range of writing required by the CCSS. Mini-lessons follow an “I do, we do, you do” format with modeled, collaborative, and independent writing practice, while interactive practice and writing models help scaffold students’ understanding of opinion, informational/explanatory, and narrative writing.

Handwriting

Using Cursive Today
This new book from Shell Education helps students in grades 2–5 master cursive writing through the use of real-world connections that include reading and writing friendly letters, postcards, and checks. Instructions are provided for beginners to learn how to write letters and common letter combinations in a modern cursive style and then build upon this skill by applying what they’ve learned to real-world connections with fun, thematic activities. Act­ivities include answering text-dependent questions, completing graphic organizers, solving puzzles and riddles, and creating pieces of art to help students gain an understanding of cursive in ways that will help them be more successful in the classroom and life.

Stand-Alone Courses

Time4Writing
Time4Writing offers eight-week online writing courses that help elementary, middle, and high school students build writing skills. Each online course is led by a certified teacher who provides one-on-one instruction, personalized feedback and guidance along the way. Courses teach topics such as grammar, sentence structure, essay writing, writing for the SAT, and research papers. Each course includes fun, interactive lessons and writing assignments that students can easily and securely access from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. Throughout the course, students work on their schedule, at their own pace. Parents are also able to log in to monitor progress.