Response Writing & All Grade Levels of Engagers Are Here!

August 2015 eNewsletter

Head Back-to-School Armed with Revision 6

The Wait is Over. All Grade Levels of Engagers are Here!

Nominations Open for District Administration Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products

We’re Hiring! Professional Development Coaches

Professional Development: Your School + WriteSteps

Back-to-School Classroom Posters

Writing Giggle of the Month

TeacherFeature:Storing Writing Materials & TeacherStar: Introducing the Traits of Writing

WriteSteps Welcomes Dodie Smith to the Team
“Education is no longer thought of as a preparation for adult life, but as a continuing process for growth and development from birth until death”
~Stephen Mitchell

Head Back-to-School Armed with Revision 6
The words back-to-school mean different things for different people. For us, it’s an exciting time where we get to share the changes we’ve made to our lessons over the summer. The most significant changes are in the area of response writing for grades 3-5.

After reviewing many of the next generation assessments, it’s clear that response writing is a crucial component for success.The tests require students to respond to complex prompts.This involves both reading and writing using a combination of mediums such as videos, articles, and graphs. Our team of gifted curriculum creators have strengthened the lessons to meet the needs of the next generation assessments.

They require:
  • Close reading
  • Re-reading
  • Higher level thinking
Many of the prompts use:
  • Two texts
  • Audio recordings
  • Video presentations
The lessons cover:
  • Narrative writing
  • Informative writing
  • Opinion writing
Some of the responses in our lessons require quick writes while others ask for extended responses that give students time to revise, edit and score their work. All of our extended response prompts require students to respond to two texts/presentations. Sometimes both prompts are written texts, but at other times one is text while the second is a video or audio recording.

Additional changes we’ve made to the lessons:
  • We’ve included Reading Literature (RL) and Reading Information (RI) Standards.
  • We’ve added more compare/contrast questions.
  • We’ve combined the genres in our lessons. For example, we learned when students were asked to read two information pieces and then write a narrative, it threw them off, and they had difficulty accomplishing the task. To combat this, we may ask students to read an information piece and then write a narrative or an opinion piece.
  • We stress close reading and reading for a purpose. The lessons teach students to read (watch or listen to) a piece three times. Each reading has a different purpose. The teacher often does the first and second reading with the students in order to model the process.
  • We’ve also created more student visual aids to help students write quality text dependent responses. These include a template for response writing called, “Off to the RACES: How to Write a Response to a Text, Video, or Audio Presentation,” an academic vocabulary list which helps both teachers and students use a variety of words in the prompt and in the writing, an information page on re-reading, rubrics, and many more.

The Wait is over. All Grade Levels of Engagers Are Here
We’re thrilled to announce EngagersTM, our SMART Notebook interactive whiteboard lessons, are available for all grade levels this month!

Engagers teach every eWriteSteps lesson and are your solution for truly engaging K-5 writing and grammar lessons.

The great news is you can add Engagers to your eWriteSteps subscription for just $99!

If you’re interested in using Engagers, and you don’t have a SMART board or SMART Notebook software, check with your tech support about purchasing through SMART Technologies.

For further information, and to watch a video of Engagers in action, click here.

District Administration Readers’ Choice Top Products Nominations are Open!
Thanks to your nominations last year, we were named a District Administration Readers’ Choice Top 100 Product in 2014.

We’d be overjoyed to make it on the list again this year and would appreciate your nomination! If you think other school leaders and districts around the country will benefit using our curriculum, and you want to help spread the word about WriteSteps, click here to nominate us. It takes about five minutes to complete. The nomination deadline is Monday, September 7. As always, we appreciate your support and for taking the time to help us out!

We’re Hiring! Seeking Professional Development Coaches
We are seeking consultants to provide professional development and assist educators in using our materials effectively.

Our K-5 writing program is used and promoted nationwide in public, private, and charter schools. Therefore, travel is a necessity.

The positions we seek to fill are contracted, part-time, positions. Assignments might range from once or twice a week, to once or twice a month. Coaches are paid a percentage of the price the school pays WriteSteps.

Our coaches are certified educators, often retired or taking time off from teaching. Ideally, applicants will have had direct experience with WriteSteps.

If you are interested in applying for a position, send a resume to Arlynn King at [email protected]. We will contact you shortly after the receipt of your information.

POSITION TITLE: Professional Development Coach
EMPLOYMENT TERMS: 1099 Employee (Part time)
A WriteSteps Coach travels throughout the United States to provide professional development for schools that have purchased WriteSteps.

Duties include:
  • Learn the program and keep up to date with revisions, so you can effectively deliver professional development sessions
  • Communicate with a school administrator who requests professional development in order to set a schedule and agenda
  • Travel to the school taking needed materials and handouts
  • Meet with small groups of teachers (usually grade-level groups) and facilitate coaching sessions – These may include such topics as: teacher Q&A, pacing, management, lesson presentation, modeling, conferencing, assessment, formative assessment, scoring using the rubric, etc.
  • Meet with large groups (up to 30 participants) to provide training on topics such as: getting started with WriteSteps, writer’s workshop, formative assessment, conferencing, scoring using the rubric, etc.
  • Respond to emails and/or phone calls from staff members you have met with who have further questions or ideas to discuss
  • Model lessons or conferencing for small groups
  • Observe teachers teaching WriteSteps lessons and provide feedback
  • Qualified elementary school teacher who has taught writing (preferably using WriteSteps)
  • Has a thorough understanding of the entire program
  • Has an in-depth understanding of Common Core Standards and current educational trends
  • Instructional Coaching experience would be helpful
  • Personable and outgoing
  • Good speaking and listening skills
  • Able to work independently
  • Responsible and reliable
  • Willing to travel

Professional Development: Your School + WriteSteps
We believe that a well-supported teacher is more likely to develop new practices and sustain them over time. That’s why we have made professional development a top priority. We offer grade-level coaching that is tailored to meet the needs of each school as well as each group of teachers. We also provide large group topic-specific PD sessions.

If you’re planning ahead for school-wide professional development days or would like to have more in-depth training on writing instruction, you might want to consider our professional development options. Click here to learn more about our professional development packages.

Back-to-School Classroom Poster Starter Kit
As you begin prepping your classrooms for the beginning of the year, here are some helpful posters for you to hang on your classroom walls. You’ll receive the following posters:
  • The Six Traits of Quality Writing
  • In This School
  • Forms of Writing: List of Ideas for Authentic Student Writing

Writing Giggle of the Month
This writing giggle of the month is from a concerned student. Do you have a funny student writing piece you can send us? If so, send them to [email protected] to be featured in an upcoming eNewsletter!


TeacherFeature: Storing Writing Material
Lacey Unger, a second grade teacher, shares how she organizes student writing materials for quick and easy access. This creates a daily routine and saves valuable instructional time.

TeacherStar: Introducing the Traits of Writing
Watch as a third grade teacher reviews the Traits of Writing, first introduced in second grade, with her students during Unit 1. The traits are compared to the ingredients of a pizza.

Email [email protected] to find out how you can become a TeacherStar and earn $200.

WriteSteps Welcomes Dodie Smith to the Team!
Dodie Smith joined our team in May to help spread the word about WriteSteps across Pennsylvania.

Prior to WriteSteps, Dodie taught middle school Language Arts and then moved into educational sales with Study Island. She later became the District Leader for the Northeast territory while at Study Island.

“I know how difficult it is to effectively teach writing and grammar skills. I wish that WriteSteps had existed during my teaching tenure,” says Dodie. “I believe too many of our children are growing up deficient in writing skills. After graduating from college as an English major, one of my daughters was hired in the Trust Department of a large bank despite her lack of a business education. She was told she was hired because she could write and communicate well, a skill her employer found lacking in many of their applicants.”

Dodie loves spending time with her husband, Tom, and visiting her three adult children-Abbe, Tom, and Emily. She’s recently been blessed with her first grandchild, Mae. Dodie and her husband have two pampered pets- Georgia, a Newfoundland, and their cat, Ollie. Dodie enjoys long walks, swimming, and reading. And of course, after living in Pittsburgh for the past 30 years, she’s a rabid Steelers fan!

“When all else fails, write what your heart tells you. You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
~Mark Twain