Step One:

Using Literature

We identify the skill being taught through the use of literature or published examples. In other words, let’s look at what authors do. So if we’re focusing on elaborative detail we find great published examples to share with students and examine how the author used the skill to bring detail to the piece.

Step Two:

Teacher Modeling

Modeling involves the teacher, stepping into the role of author, verbalizing the thought and questioning processes of an author.  Modeling is the best way to build powerful vocabulary –asking specific productive questions, eliciting verbal and nonverbal responses from students and incorporating these responses into powerful writing.  Over time, if we ask enough detail-generating questions, students will internalize the questions and apply them independently to their own writing.

We take general or weak student responses, give them the benefit of the doubt and assign powerful vocabulary to better express their ideas – translating weak responses into powerful responses, giving students credit for their ideas.

We believe that student writers always know more than they can articulate – the depth of their experience and feelings often exceeds their ability to express it – modeling a lesson in this way empowers and affirms students and gives them the tools to express what is inside of them.


Step Three:

Guided Practice

We provide students the opportunity to practice whatever skill they’ve observed in published pieces and experienced through modeling – this with plenty of teacher direction, circulating, reiterating detail generating questions, offering feedback and encouragement.  We stay focused on the explicit, discrete skill, rather than on an entire piece of writing, which can be overwhelming.

Step Four:


Eventually students emulate the process and apply what they’ve learned,independently.

This methodology addresses the issues teachers have with management, breaks the writing process into manageable pieces for student writers so that they can concentrate on particular skills.  In this way, students are not overwhelmed at the prospect of writing. Preview one of our Guides with Sample Lessons.