AEFL Week Celebration: Writing Best Practices Day 1

Hi Everyone,

To celebrate Adult Education and Family Literacy Week (September 17 to 23), I will highlight five writing best practices for adult educators. 

First, what writing  instructional strategies does research recommend? For that answer, we'll turn to the TEAL Just Write! guide from the LINCS Resource Collection. A metanalysis of writing research recommends:

  • Guiding students through self-regulated strategies where learners monitor themselves as they  plan, monitor, evaluate, revise, and manage the writing process
  • Teaching students to summarize
  • Using collaborative writing, where students work together on writing tasks
  • Setting specific writing goals such as, "write a paragraph persuading voters to support ___________  "vs "write a 200-word essay"
  • Using technology in writing, especially word processing  
  • Teaching sentence combining skills 
  • Conducting inquiry lessons on topics of interest to students
  • Doing prewriting activities such as brainstorming or idea webs
  • Teaching writing as a process from planning through drafts and then final editing 
  • Studying models of good writing 

What writing best practices do you use with your students? How do this look in your teaching?

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 


Hi Everyone,

Another writing best practice to consider is scaffolded support for our emerging writers. Too often, we ask our students to write but give them little guidance in how to do so. We can provide learners with the support they need by:

1. Providing direct writing instruction – We can demonstrate the writing process for students by doing a group writing lesson. This might look like modeling the writing process by brainstorming ideas, writing, and then revising. We could also use techniques like a writer’s workshop

2. Use writing frames – Writing frames are an outline consisting of words or key phrases plus lots of blanks for students to fill in. Here is an example:

This is an example of a writing frame where there are a few starter words and blank lines for learners to fill in

3. Teach using models – Instructors can show students models of good writing and then deconstruct the models to show what makes them effective.

4. Use student writing – We can use students’ writing to demonstrate how the editing and multiple drafts’ process works. The class can work together discussing what changes might be made to move a draft to a final product. 

What techniques do you use to help emerging writers learn to write?

Happy AEFL Week,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 

Hi Fellow Learners,

I hope your AEFL week is going well!

The research on teaching grammar is clear: teach grammar in the context of student writing. Too often students get turned off from writing as they endure decontextualized grammar drills. Indeed, "studies of grammar instruction alone or
as a primary writing instructional approach produced negative results for students’ overall writing quality" (US Department of Education, 2011). 

For more on teaching grammar in context, I invite you to visit a past discussion. Dr. Mary Ann Corley, one of my mentors in adult education, did a day-long conversation on contextualized grammar back in 2020. Enjoy revisiting the discussion!

How do you teach grammar in the context of students' writing?

Thanks for your thoughts,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 

Hi Everyone,

Writing to learn, using writing to gain knowledge or reinforce learning, is a powerful tool. There are many ways to do this in the classroom, and I’ll describe a few favorites:

Describe Your Process – As students tackle a problem-solving task, they explain how they make sense of the problem, what they are doing to solve it, and what they learn along the way.

Journaling – As John Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience...we learn from reflecting on experience.” Journals give students a chance to think and reflect for themselves on what they learn. Many different journal prompts allow for reflection and the process gives quiet space to do this. 

Write and Draw – Creating a picture with explanatory captions helps new learning stick. Students say that they are not artists, but the quality of the picture doesn’t matter. The processing that goes into creating the picture and caption does.

Entrance and Exit Tickets – Exit tickets, asking students to process and give feedback about their learning, are very familiar. (I love the 3 2 1 exit ticket shown below!). Entrance tickets, asking students to do some writing before class or during class before new learning, are less familiar but very effective for activating prior knowledge.

This is the 3 2 1 exit ticket where students describe 3 things they learned, 2 things they found interesting, and 1 question they had

Talk then Write – Talking about something before writing serves to lubricate the writing process, acting as an effective pre-writing activity.

Here is a link to more writing to learn techniques created by a former colleague at Appalachian State. 

What are your favorite writing to learn techniques?

Thanks for your thoughts,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a great AEFL week! I want to wrap up this week’s writing best practices discussion with a few thoughts.

Just write! – Research shows that most adult educators assign less than a paragraph of writing per week. This is not enough for learners to develop and practice this important skill. Look for ways to incorporate more writing during and outside of class.

Caption Writing – Not sure where to get started with writing? Start with something simple. Give students a picture and have them write a brief sentence about what they see. Find pictures to caption here and here.

Quick Writes - One way to increase writing fluency is through a quick write. Learners respond by writing for 2–10 minutes to an open-ended question or prompt posed by the instructor before, during, or after examining a reading passage. Find out more about quick writes here.

Collaborative Writing - Emerging writers welcome the chance to practice their writing skills with a peer. There are so many creative ways for students to collaborate on their writing. Please enjoy a classic discussion on this topic here.

The Big Six Per Writing Next, the top six research-based key writing elements are:

1, Writing strategies – Provide direct instruction for students to learn strategies for planning, revising, and editing their writing 

2, Teach students how to summarize 

3, Collaborative writing 

4. Set specific product goals 

5. Use word processing 

6. Teach sentence combining 

Thanks for being a part of this week’s discussion! 

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group