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Teaching Writing

Three renowned reading and writing experts — Steve Graham, Louisa Moats, and Susan Neuman — address why writing is important, what the latest research tells us, and what educators and parents can do to support our children’s development as writers.

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Program description

If “reading is rocket science,” shouldn’t we give children as much support as possible? Though often overlooked, writing is an essential skill that can help children become stronger readers; it can provide the means to enhance vocabulary, comprehension, and spelling abilities. With the help of three top experts, this webcast explores the importance of writing skills, what the latest research tells us, and what teachers and parents can do to make the process smooth and successful.


Dr. Steve Graham is a professor and the Currey Ingram chair in special education at Vanderbilt University. He is the editor of Exceptional Children and the former editor of Contemporary Educational Psychology. He is the co-author of the Handbook of Writing Research, Handbook of Learning Disabilities, Writing Better, and Making the Writing Process Work.

Dr. Louisa Moats is the Director of Professional Development and Research Initiatives with Sopris West Educational Services. She directed the NICHD Early Reading Interventions Project in Washington, DC and worked on the California Reading Initiative as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar. She is the author of many books and articles including: Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers, Parenting a Struggling Reader, as well as the professional development program, LETRS.

Dr. Susan Neuman is a Professor in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan. She previously served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. In this role, she established the Reading First program and the Early Reading First program. At Michigan, she has directed the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA), focusing early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction. She is also the author of numerous books and articles, including Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practice.

Watch the webcast

Related resources

Reading, Writing, and Related LDs

Find out about a new research-based program from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in this video featuring program director Dr. Brett Miller. The program focuses on how writing skills develop over time (pre-K through adults), why some struggle with writing, and effective prevention, remediation, and instructional strategies. Learn more at the program website (opens in a new window).

Other writing resources from Reading Rockets

Articles and books by our presenters

Steve Graham

Susan Neuman

Louisa Moats

Additional resources on writing


Writing activities from Reading Rockets

Discussion questions

  1. Dr. Neuman started the webcast by sharing elements of good writing instruction. Which of these elements are present in your classroom? Which ones can you work to incorporate more explicitly, and how will you do that?
  2. What experiences have prepared you to teach writing? Reflect on and share any books, videos, or articles that have helped you shape your writing program.
  3. Dr. Neuman shared some ideas for writing across the curriculum, including ideas for math, social studies, and science. How have you integrated writing across your curriculum? What new ideas did you get from watching this webcast?
  4. Dr. Graham described four areas of skilled writing: planning, monitoring, evaluating, and revising. Of these, which is the most challenging area for you as a teacher? Why?
  5. Describe how you use children’s writing to help you understand what they know about phonemic awareness and spelling.
  6. If writing is like juggling a lot of balls in the air, what types of jugglers are your students?
  7. Louisa Moats described elements of a good writing program. Consider the writing curriculum or program you use. Which components are there? Which ones are missing?
  8. Writing instruction for ELL students should include (among other things) dialogue and vocabulary instruction, oral language modeling and oral language expression. How can teachers in kindergarten and first-grade classes do that? Describe what it would look like.
  9. What writing skills and strategies have you modeled and explicitly taught recently? How did the lessons go? What changes would you make the next time you try it?