Growing Writers is a comprehensive writing program for K-2 designed to accelerate student achievement and nurture a love of writing.
Comprehensive instruction: Growing Writers includes instruction in basic skills that create success and competence. These skills are handwriting, spacing, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure. Research shows that handwriting is an essential skill for writing fluency and that handwriting instruction supports phonics learning.
Accelerated learning: The design of Growing Writers incorporates the science of learning by expertly pacing the introduction of new information. This expert pacing, proven to work in over 20 years of action research, creates a strong base from which students can confidently move forward.
Social-emotional learning: Writing is meant to be shared, and this sharing builds trust and classroom community. Growing Writers incorporates some type of sharing into every lesson.
Writing tasks: Each Growing Writers lesson includes a basic skills practice and a writing task. Some days are “free choice” writing and other days may have a prompt, opinion writing, factual or fiction writing, or a personal narrative. Tasks are designed to be engaging and fun and to give lots of time for writing practice in different genres.
Mindset and Mindfulness: From the beginning, students learn that good writers have a mindset of being open to change and improvement. Even before the writing process is fully taught, students learn to edit for neat handwriting and punctuation. They learn to easily accept feedback from the teacher and from their peers. Students also learn a quiet, focused, “mindful” approach to writing in each lesson’s silent work period.
Grammar is fun: Students love how Growing Writers approaches grammar, with silly sentences, making up sentences as a class, and “Mad-Lib” activities… let’s get rid of the idea that grammar has to be boring!
Why focus on K-2 writing?
In the past 20 years, writing instruction has fallen farther and farther behind as an educational priority. There has been a huge (and needed) emphasis on reading, but along with that has come a languishing in the area of writing. Science and technology have become a big focus and time demand, even in the youngest grades. And because writing is no longer a subject on most state tests, it’s importance has dwindled.
But in life, being a good writer is actually more important than ever. In a recent Nace survey 82% of employers said that writing skills were the first things they looked for in a resume.
In school, writing is a critical skill for every subject area. Students who cannot write are at a similar disadvantage to students who cannot read. They are frustrated, embarrassed, and lose their motivation to learn.
Dr. Louisa Moats, an expert in reading instruction, has this to say about the difficulty of learning to write:
“Many adults with excellent reading comprehension are much less skilled at writing well. Likewise, many children who read well have difficulty learning to write. Among the language-dependent skills, writing takes the longest to learn and is mastered by the fewest [italics added]. The main reason why writing is difficult is that it is the quintessential mental juggling act. The act of composing, transcribing, and editing written language draws on all the processing systems needed for reading, as well as many others… A writer’s brain not only uses the four processors critical for word recognition (phonological, orthographic, meaning, and context) but also draws heavily on other language, motor, memory, attention, and executive functions.”
A currently popular idea is that students will learn to write simply by responding to prompts in subject areas. In other words, no instruction is needed – just practice.
According to NAEP results , only 27% of 12th graders in the US are proficient at writing. It’s clear that good writing instruction is needed. There are many benefits to starting this instruction in kindergarten, since learning to write benefits phonological understanding and supports learning to read.
Children who gain success in writing an early age can also have more ease and fun in school. Writing becomes a tool for expression rather than a struggle!
Growing Writers Mission:
Every child will be a confident, competent, grade-level writer by third grade, ready and able to complete writing assignments with enthusiasm and a solid understanding of writing basics.
Growing Writers classroom climate
If you’re an educator, you might be struggling with how to meet the skills gap in your classroom. When the skills gap isn’t being met, the classroom climate suffers. There’s not enough of you to go around. It leads to a feeling of burnout. Students waste learning time waiting for help.
Maybe it looks like this… You teach a lesson and send students off to complete an assignment. Then hands start going up. “I don’t understand what to do.” “I need help.”
About 15 minutes later, as you’re still trying to help some students get started on the assignment, you start to hear, “I’m done, now what do I do?”
Is it possible to keep everyone engaged and successful? Yes!
Growing Writers has a unique design which has differentiation built in. It was created by a teacher who knows firsthand the stress of teaching. The idea of lessons that are equitable and meet the needs of every experience level has been central to Growing Writers since its beginnings 20 years ago.
What does a lesson look like?
Click here to see a sample lesson page and what it includes.
What teachers are saying
“I have some boys who get easily distracted and tired of writing. I was nervous about doing the program every day. But as soon as I started it they really looked forward to the routine and they liked knowing what was coming. The consistency of the program worked really well for those kids. Even the kids that really struggle with fine motor skills enjoy the task of the lessons. It isn’t a battle.”
“The group lesson before starting the books each day is so valuable. They really don’t want to have to fix their work. They want to get it right the first time, so I think they know that group lesson is valuable too.”
“Everything just flows. The creative choice writing every day gives me the time to walk around and check everyone’s work on the conventions. A lot of kids are proud of their work and they want you to check it, so I try to get around to everyone each day. I like that the program gives me time to do that.”
“It is nice to make time for writing and to have it in the schedule. I’ve never had that. Sure, we did writing as a part of science and social studies and reading and all that but we weren’t teaching it. I don’t think we can expect kids to just know how to write. If you don’t teach it, how do you expect them to know it? It gives me chills to think where my kids would be if we hadn’t had Growing Writers this year.”