MUSD Writing Philosophy

  • The beliefs and practices underlying the teaching of writing in MUSD are guided by educational research on best practices in literacy. Writing is the process of constructing text to facilitate our thinking and communicate clearly. Writers write for many purposes. Our goal is to develop life-long learners who are independent and proficient writers.

    Writing is a process that involves five distinct steps: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and final draft/publishing. It is a recursive process as writers revisit prewriting steps to develop and expand their ideas. Each step of the process is explicitly taught and then practiced as students compose relevant content. Handwriting, typing, spelling, grammar and conventions are embedded within the steps of the process. 

    Writing-to-learn activities and strategies facilitate the thinking process that occurs while we are learning. The content may come from curricular areas such as Science, Math and Social Studies. As students are using writing to learn they are engaging in various aspects of the writing process. For example:

    • Writing-to-Learn Activities
      • Freewriting to tap into prior knowledge; research tools including graphic organizers, note cards, etc.
      • What did I learn? Reports, powerpoints, drama, art
      • What can I do with this information?
    • Learning to Write – Writing Process
      • Prewriting- developing ideas
      • Rough drafts, editing, final copies 
      • Publishing

    The Writing Process

    Reading and writing are essential for learning. Students learn to write and read and use writing and reading to learn. By teaching and supporting writers through the writing process, we give students the skills and understanding they need to use writing to communicate and enhance their thinking, while seeing themselves as writers!

    The Writing Process:

    • Developing Ideas
      • Why are you writing? Determine purpose:
        • Develop thinking
        • Communicate clearly
        • Tool for learning - content area
        • Literacy
    • Drafting
      • Generating Idea
        • Consider 6 traits - purpose and audience
    • Revising
      • Revisiting/Re-seeing Content Ideas
        • Consider 6 traits - purpose and audience
    • Editing
      • Grammar, Spelling, Organization
    • Final Draft / Publishing
      • Product-Sharing the writing with self or others

    Teaching the Process

    Writers use all phases of the writing process for different purposes. For example, if a student is writing to facilitate the thinking process during note taking, the writer will not go beyond the drafting phase. Alternatively, if the writer is writing to share research/information, the writer will proceed through all the phases of the writing process.

    The explicit and systematic teaching, practice and assessment of writing skills and strategies may occur in various instructional approaches. These instructional approaches range from a teacher modeling writing to demonstrate the complexity of the writing process to a student independently composing text to facilitate learning or communication. Each instructional approach values the collaborative process as teachers and students are writing and learning together. Writing instruction is differentiated depending on the needs of the developing writers.

    Writing is frequent and consistent. The writing process is purposeful and equally important to the product. The final product could be any stage of the writing process. Students will receive and integrate feedback from students and teachers in order to develop effective writing skills.

    Assessing the Process

    Rubrics are used to share expectations for an assignment, provide focused feedback on works in progress, and grade final products. Grade level rubrics define expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria and describing levels of quality. Teachers will use rubrics to clarify for students the standards of a quality performance and to guide feedback about progress toward those standards.

    The writing process and skills will be taught through a balanced literacy framework. The acquisition of writing skills is developmental and these approaches enable instruction to be differentiated based on the needs and skill levels of each student. This framework incorporates a variety of approaches: 

    • Modeled Writing (or writing aloud) is practiced when the teacher demonstrates various aspects of how one writes and models the complexity of the writing process. Students gain implicit knowledge of the syntax or structure of written language and expand their vocabulary while observing the construction of text. 
    • Shared writing is used to teach the complexity of the writing process through a supportive and collaborative approach. Students construct text with support from teachers and peers. Teachers help students with every aspect of the writing process.
    • Guided writing is used to support the students as they write in small groups. Teachers differentiate their instruction as they coach and support students to use effective strategies for composing increasingly complex levels of texts.
    • Independent writing provides a daily opportunity for students to write a variety of authentic text while practicing writing strategies and processes that have been internalized. The more a writer uses writing to facilitate thinking and communication, the more the writer will see and use writing for these purposes.