ENG 461

Teaching Reading and Writing

For this blog post, I will be referencing “Learning How to Teach Writing” and “Learning How to Teach Reading” by Atwell and “I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?!” by Amy Rasmussen.

The first article I will be discussing is “Learning How to Teach Reading”. Right away, Atwell discusses the traditional way of teaching literature. This includes lecturing students about the importance of reading. However, with this strategy, it does not allow for students to explore why reading is important for themselves. It is important to guide students to see the importance but if we just lecture them and tell them to believe us, it is much less effective then having students read for themselves. It can change their life as a reader once they find a book they enjoy and see their eyes light up when they actually get it.

Image from DJ Bass

Something I think is really important from this article is the idea of a good reader. The stereotype for a “good reader” is someone who is in a book study finishing every book he ever starts. The “good reader” reads every single word on every single page and even looks up words he doesn’t know. While this is what most people think when they hear that someone is a reader, it is not true. Most people I know who enjoy reading do not do this and Atwell agrees. When teaching reading, it is critical that we do not expect students to be the stereotype. Of course, we want students to read and finish their books but they also need to know they have reader rights. They are allowed to skip pages and not finish a book if they do not like it. It is important to allow students to use their reader rights but first, we need to give them time to read in the classroom.

Next, I want to talk about teaching writing in the classroom. For this section, I will be referring to “Learning How to Teach Writing” and “I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?!” The first thing I noticed about Atwell’s article is when she talks about learning with the students. To me, this is not specifically talking about reading and writing, but teaching in general. I believe that it is important to show students that teachers are people too and we learn every day based on our students.

When reading about Jeff’s story in Atwell’s article, I had a lot of different feelings. When he went to Atwell and discussed his writing method and how it is different than other students, I was hesitant because when things are not done the way we like or the way we are used to, we get stressed out. Asking if they will actually get it done or in this case if Jeff will have his writing folder full by the end of the year. In this case, it worked. Jeff was able to fill his folder and actually write but through his own learning style. For some teachers, me included, it can be difficult to let the student go away from the traditional way of learning because it feels safe. However, student’s know themselves better than any teacher will. They know what works and what doesn’t. If we do not give them the chance to use their own learning strengths, we are failing them in school. 

Image from Denise Krebs

In “I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?!”, Rasmussen, talks about a variety of methods to teach writing. All of these are great suggestions and I could see myself using all of them but my favorite is the idea of choice. Like Rasmussen says, it gives students more apt to take ownership and care about their writing. I believe if a human wants to be successful in anything, they first have to care about it. When students are given this chance, they not only care about their writing during that class period, they also have a better chance of continuing to write into their adult lives. I don’t expect every one of my students to become a writer (even though that would be awesome!). I expect my students to see how writing is important for their lives and others. When we are writing, we leave our mark on something. Who knows, a grocery list could be used in history books to show handwriting!

Overall, these three articles were very informational on not only teaching reading and writing but teaching in general. Our goal as teachers is to help students learn. There are many different ways to go about this goal but our main focus is the students.


Atwell, Learning How to Teach Writing. Retrieved from https://online.csc.edu/access/content/group/f15194b1-3620-4ba5-a5f5-8bec8b8da125/Curriculum%20and%20Lesson%20Planning/Learning%20How%20to%20Teach%20Writing%20_Atwell_.pdf

Atwell, Learning How to Teach Reading. Retrieved from https://online.csc.edu/access/content/group/f15194b1-3620-4ba5-a5f5-8bec8b8da125/Curriculum%20and%20Lesson%20Planning/Learning%20How%20to%20Teach%20Reading%20_Atwell_.pdf

Rasmussen, A. (2015) I’m Teaching Writing to the Whole 5th Grade–Now What?! Retrieved from https://threeteacherstalk.com/2015/08/26/im-teaching-writing-to-the-whole-5th-grade-now-what/

ENG 461

Lesson Planning- ENG 461

For this blog post, I want to discuss some things from “3 Questions to Ask When Lesson Planning” by Christopher Lehman, “Planning a Year” by Bomer, “How Units Work Together” by Penny Kittle and “Planning for What You Can’t Know” by Matt Glover and Mary Alice Berry. 

Image from Mike Cohen

Right away, I want to talk about the questions addressed in “3 Questions to Ask When Lesson Planning”. First off, when lesson planning, it is important to think about what the students are capable of and how much workload they can handle. If students get too much work, they will become overwhelmed and shut down. If students get to little work, they will not be challenged. The amount of work can vary from class to class and even student to student. It is important to take past experiences and what assignments are helpful and not just busy work when working through the lesson plans. 

When building lesson plans, it is also important to think about how the lesson outcomes will be beneficial to the student outside of the class. Being teachers, we do not want our students to remember something just until they have to take their test. The goal of the lesson should be that students understand the concept, see it’s importance, and use it in their lives. 

In terms of an English Language Arts classroom, students should look back on their lessons and see how it relates to their literacy life. This is discussed in “Planning a Year”. Students should be welcome to look at their literary lives, in terms of reading and writing, during the lessons. As humans, we can make significant changes in our lives if we first understand our starting point. By this, I mean if someone wants to become a better reader, for example, they need to start with some reading skills they are not good at. 

Something discussed in “Planning a Year” is the need to plan for real people. This is incredibly important because every student is going to learn differently. With this being said, it is important to have a variety of learning styles involved with a lesson and be realistic with expectations. Some expectations may change according to the student because some students are above grade level and some students are below. These accommodations need to be available because they are so common in a class. 

When discussing units and planning, Scottsbluff has a very specific way of teaching English Language Arts. First of all, the curriculum we use for K-8 is called Wit and Wisdom. This curriculum is very literature and art heavy. For younger kids, I really enjoy having them exposed to so many different types of literature and seeing the connections between them. However, it is very challenging for my class right now. They are seeing common themes but are really struggling with the writing sections of the lesson. With Wit and Wisdom, every grade level teacher needs to be teaching the same lesson on the same day. The school district wants the teachers to follow the Wit and Wisdom lesson plans to the tee because it will be what every 3rd grader is getting in the district. (Hopefully, that makes sense). I do like the Wit and Wisdom curriculum but it makes it difficult if a class has to go back and reteach something. That is what some of the “Reading Target Time” sections we have are for but even then, it can become very easy for a student to fall behind. In the article, “Planning for What You Can’t Know” by Matt Glover and Mary Alice Berry, they discuss that a teacher cannot know what they need to teach until their unit actually starts and students discover on their own. Wit and Wisdom has these guided questions that teachers are asked to follow to help students understand what they are supposed to be seeing, but students will have the opportunity to make their own decisions about what they notice and wonder. 

In Wit and Wisdom, there are four units that are taught throughout the year. Each unit has a different theme but the skills from unit one are needed to work through unit two and so on. The lessons within each unit also tie together very well. With each new lesson, there is a recap section where they talk about what they learned last lesson. For some students this is difficult at first but once they recognize what is being asked of them, it is pretty easy. 



Berry, M. & Glover, M. Planning for What You Can’t Know. Retrieved from https://www.heinemann.com/pd/journal/glover_berry_s11_pdcatalog-journal.pdf

Bomer. Planning a Year. Retrieved from https://online.csc.edu/access/content/group/f15194b1-3620-4ba5-a5f5-8bec8b8da125/Curriculum%20and%20Lesson%20Planning/Planning%20a%20Year%20_Bomer_.pdf

Kittle, P. (2008) Write Beside Them. Retrieved from https://online.csc.edu/access/content/group/f15194b1-3620-4ba5-a5f5-8bec8b8da125/Curriculum%20and%20Lesson%20Planning/How%20Units%20Work%20Together%20_Kittle_.pdf

Lehman, C. (June, 2013) 3 Questions When Lesson Planning. Retrieved from https://christopherlehman.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/3-questions-when-lesson-planning/