The Teacher Tip

Keep It Whole

October 11, 2017

Adapted from Writing Essentials: Raising Expectations and Results While Simplifying Teaching by Regie Routman.


When we teach whole to part and back to whole, learning is easier and more meaningful for our students. The big problem with teaching isolated skills is that kids don’t know what we’re talking about and why.


In their eagerness to teach “correct” writing, some teachers jump right to the individual skills. But to students, isolated skills make little sense without a meaningful context.


Try this: give students meaningful contexts.


A skills approach to teaching paragraphs would be to say, “A paragraph is a group of sentences that tell about the same topic. Please write a paragraph.”


An approach that links the skill to a meaningful context would be to say, “Let’s look at your writing. I can show you how to organize these sentences to make it easier for the reader to follow.”

To learn more about Writing Essentials, and to download a sample chapter, visit 

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