For Your Classroom · Writing

Tools & Advice for Teaching Writing in High School

Teaching Writing Pin 2

Build a foundation- teach the writing process

Learning the writing process is the best first step to write anything! Emphasis on the process part- students have to grasp that writing is more than filling a blank page. I find that teens are often really intimidated by a blank page. What’s worse, their goal is usually to fill the page, and turn it in as soon as they’ve met the minimum length requirement.

“But I can’t think of anything to write about!”

“What do I say?”

“That’s all I know.”

“How long does this have to be?”

Teaching the writing process can help your learners get past these frustrations, and more. Introducing, explaining, and modeling each of these steps is essential to student writing success.


Teach them that for an effective writer, the process begins before they ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). For every composition, a planning stage is a must, even if it’s just jotting a quick list of ideas. For longer compositions, further brainstorming, researching, and some type of scaffolding or outlining would of course be necessary.

Explain to your students how to take the ideas they brainstormed and research them. Then take the research they gathered, and organize it in an outline. Then take the outline they wrote and craft paragraphs.


Once it’s time to begin the actual writing part, help your students relax about creating a rough draft. They need to know that the purpose of this step is simply to get the ideas from their brain onto the paper- it’s ok if everything isn’t just right. In fact, it’s ok if the whole thing stinks!

Novelist C.J. Cherryh tells us, “It’s OK to write garbage, as long as you edit brilliantly.” 


Rewriting is the stage that commonly is met with the most resistance, is it not? (Once you’ve gotten them to actually write something, that is!) I think this is mostly due to the fact that new writers aren’t sure what needs to be changed. They put all their ideas on paper, and that was a quite a feat, but now we’re asking them to change it?

As Duane Alan Hahn puts it, “Rewriting ripens what you’ve written.” How great is that?

Here is where students need a checklist, and lots of examples. Take a paragraph of your own, or even better- one of the students’ (with their permission), and go down the checklist with the class, showing how and why you made edits. Then give them some time in class to work on their own writing, while the methods are fresh on their mind. Another option is having the students exchange papers and mark edits for each other. This isn’t always effective for every group- do what’s best for your learners.


While editing can be tedious, it’s necessary to create a polished final product. Trying to skip editing is like wearing a great outfit without any accessories, or washing your car, but skipping the tires.

Again, employ a checklist here. Think about what’s on your grading rubric, and include these items on the checklist. Students need a goal. Don’t just tell them to edit. That means little to nothing to a teen. Make it like a hunt- tell them exactly what they’re looking for, and how they need to change it.


Giving your students options to share their compositions beyond just turning it in for grading can help to motivate them about writing.

Consider starting a class blog, newspaper, or printing a book at the end of the year.

If you’re ready to start teaching the writing process, be sure that you have some effective resources.


This resource is an interactive, in-depth look at the writing process, and how to implement each step on a practical level.

It gives insight into correcting common writing struggles such as making a short piece longer, coming up with content to write about, improving your writing style, and more.

Use this resource to introduce the writing process, to refresh the writing process, to help struggling writers become more organized, or to help strong writers take their compositions to the next level.

Stay on track with evaluation – use grading rubrics

Trying to grade a paper without a set of guidelines is kind of like driving to school blind-folded! Part of what’s difficult about grading papers is trying to be objective. A rubric will help you issue a fair grade to each composition, and it will save you tons of time.

These are the rubrics I almost always used- check them out- they might work for you too!

Grading Writing Rubric

Supply some food for thought- use class decor to spark interest in reading and writing

These colorful posters will quickly brighten up a classroom, and hopefully inspire your up-and-coming writers!

Writing Posters Cover

What are your favorite teaching writing tips? Share in the comments below!

I'd love to hear from you!