Professional development options
for teachers of nonfiction writing to
Providing professional development for teachers who feel unprepared
for teaching nonfiction writing to teens, college students, and
adults is the raison d'être of You-Can-Teach-Writing.com.
None of my resources are for teachers of preteens; plenty of other
sites provide those resources. Most of the materials on this site
require cognitive development that does not appear until adolescence.
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Most of this site's PD opportunities are free. Click around to
check them out:
Get professional development for a fee
If you like what you get free on this site, consider investing
in my retirement income by purchasing some of my professional development
materials for teachers:
Buy digital books and materials
Learning, Reshape Teaching: An English Teacher's Guide to Using
Informal Writing with Teens and Adults shows how to use writing
as a tool for teaching tough topics and for formative assessment.
All examples in the book focus on the grammar and writing mechanics
that students don't master adequately through traditional exercises
to be able to apply them when they are required to write.
It Out is a packet of strategic planning materials to support
pairs of students' in building thesis-and-support pattern nonfiction.
The questions fit all nonfiction genres required by the Common Core
State Standards except narratives.
For teachers in traditional classroom settings, the second edition
planning questions are sized for printing on a single sheet of 30-up
labels, instead of less common 20-up labels required by
the first edition of Talk It Out. However, the second edition
includes online access so students bring-your-own-device
and paperless classrooms can access the strategic planning questions
easily without print materials.
Begins as Words: English and Communications Writing Prompts
for Teens and Adults provides teachers with discipline-specific
prompts that explore verbal and nonverbal elements found in bullying
The book is not intended as a solution to the problem of bullying.
Its function is to show students how traditional English class topics,
such as vocabulary choices, are relevant to problems they encounter
everyincluding problems caused by bullies. Anything Bullying
Begins as Words does to combat bullying is a bonus.
know many English teachers who took classes in how to teach grammar
were never taught how to study grammar themselves. It's not done
the same way as studying literature. My short student ebook Grammar
Abusers Anonymous can be used for professional development
in that area.
Grammar Abusers Anonymous is a 12-step program students
can use to learn to correct the errors in their writing. They use
their own grammar errors as practice exercises instead of worksheets
or publisher-created materials.
Online workshops for writing teachers
My professional development workshops for writing teachers emphasize
thesis and support (or persuasive pattern) writing,
the kind nonfiction writing required in academic and workplace situations.
Workshops are typically 75-90 minutes long and conducted online.
They are interactive and hands-on: Expect to do informal writing
- Informal Writing Prompts
- Formal Writing Prompts
- Get Creative with the 5-Paragraph Essay
- Shape Creativity in Nonfiction Writing
- Plagiarism Prevention
Until at least fall of 2013, I won't be offering any public professional
development courses. Depending on my schedule, I might be able to
work in a session for a English language arts teachers or homeschoolers
if someone is willing to take care of getting a group together.
Free forums for writing teacher PD
The forums are a place where writing teachers can receive professional
development help from other writing teachers. In the teacher forums,
you can share your frustrations and get help from other teachers
anonymously, if they wish, without signing up, joining,
The forums also provide a place where teachers can begin
establishing a web presence without the headache of regular
blogging or securing up a domain. Material accepted for posting
gets its own URL, which means you can list bylined work
on your CV and job applications.
Share your terrible, horrible, no good, very worst experience
teaching writing to a student who was turned-off, struggling,
learning disabled, or just plain ornery. Or, if you have a
story about a wonderful experience, inspire us with it.
Writing Prompts Forum
Formal prompts on authentic ELA topics other than literature
are rare finds. Got a great one? We'd love to see it, and
hear how you use it. Or perhaps you have questions about using
informal writing prompts as teaching tools. If you're thinking
about writing prompts, please share at this forum.
Writing Objectives Forum
Confused about how to translate state standards into classroom
objectives? Pulled in 18 directions by all the stuff you have
to stuff into your ELA curriculum? Share your frustration
with writing objectives. If writing doesn't help you solve
your own problem, other readers can offer sympathetic advice.
Thesis Statements Forum
The thesis statement is central to expository writing, but
teaching students how and when to use them is challenging,
to put it mildly. Instead of tearing your hair, share your
frustrations with your peers. And when your students finally
get it, share your success. We'll cheer for you long and loud!
Writing Process Forum
Teaching a writing process is almost as hard as applying
one. Please share tricks that worked for teaching your students
to write expository works or for teaching parts of the process.
If you haven't a success story yet, share what didn't work
for you. Someone else might have a tweak to fix it.
Teaching Grammar Forum
Grammar is the ugh! part of writing that students
(and many of us) would rather skip. As conscientious teachers,
we try to teach students to use grammar correctly in their
writing, but it's a hard slog. How do you handle teaching
grammar for writing? What worked? What blew up in your face?
Writing Assessment Forum
Grading papers is a thankless job. If you need help or can
provide help with formative assessments (including peer mediated
ones), summative assessments, matching course objectives to
assessments, or any other topic related to evaluating writing,
please visit this forum.
Eavesdrop on student forums
An often overlooked resource for professional development is the
student essay help forum. Some college
writing centers have their tutors skim the questions students post
there to see what kinds of problems students are likely to ask them.
You can use the postings for that purpose as well.
Writing Points most popular, free PD
The most popular of my professional development offerings is the
free, monthly ezine Writing Points. It delivers resources,
tips, and activities for teaching writing and using writing to teach
Want a subscription? Sign up here.