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180 Days to Successful Writers

180 Days to Successful Writers
Lessons to Prepare Your Students for Standardized Assessments and for Life

December 2005 | 296 pages | Corwin

Enhance your students' writing skills and boost their scores on standardized writing tests!

In today's high-stakes environment, standardized test scores not only gauge student performance, but are also linked to a school's status and the funding it receives. This helpful resource provides educators with a classroom-tested writing curriculum that has proven to boost student scores on standardized writing tests while helping them develop skills for lifelong writing success.

The authors offer structured, day-to-day lesson plans linked to national standards; easy-to-use writing tools; and carefully crafted, unscripted lessons that cover a scope and follow a sequence that aims for student success. This curriculum is designed to help you:

  • Become a confident writing teacher
  • Prepare your students for all practical applications of writing
  • Provide students with the analytical tools and skills they need to succeed on standardized writing tests
  • Accommodate students' strengths and weaknesses
  • Create confident readers and writers of your most reluctant students

Your students need more than writing prompts and grammar lessons to ensure they will have lifelong writing success. Finally--a way for teachers to provide quality writing instruction that allows them to meet testing demands on time and with confidence!

About the Authors
1. No-Brainers and Bosses: Laying the Foundation
Curriculum Overview


Instruction Framework

Preparing to Teach

Week 1 Lesson Plans (Focus: Pretests and Prompt Differentiation)

2. Pickle Sandwiches and TCUPSS: Beginning Expository Writing
Week 2 Lesson Plans (Focus: The Expository Writing Process)

3. Rainbow Words and Awe-Inspiring Adjectives: Enhancing Expository
Week 3 Lesson Plans (Focus: Author’s Voice)

Week 3 Lesson Plans (Focus: Author’s Voice)

Week 5 Lesson Plans (Focus: Pace and Independence)

4. It all Started With a Tier Cake: Directing Narrative Structure
Week 6 Lesson Plans (Focus: Narrative Story Structure)

5. Ask for Likely Similes and Vivacious Verbs: Enhancing Narratives
Week 7 Lesson Plans (Focus: Syntax)

Week 8 Lesson Plans (Focus: Strong Verbs)

Week 9 Lesson Plans (Focus: Similes)

6. Dressing Things Up: Independent Writing
Week 10 Lesson Plans (Focus: Metaphors)

Week 11 Lesson Plans (Focus: Quotations)

Week 12 Lesson Plans (Focus: Sensory Details and Skeleton Plans)

Week 13 Lesson Plans (Focus: Hooks and Correcting Slang)

Week 14 Lesson Plans (Focus: Timed Writing)

Week 15 Lesson Plans (Focus: Anecdotes)

7. The Improvement Process: Diagnosing and Fixing Problems
Week 16 Lesson Plans (Focus: Grammar and Using a Rubric)

Week 17 Lesson Plans (Focus: Clarifying Problems)

Week 18 Lesson Plans (Focus: Elaboration)

Week 19 Lesson Plans (Focus: Conferencing and Self Reflection)

Week 20 Lesson Plans (Focus: Organization)

Week 21 Lesson Plans (Focus: Planning Difficult Prompts)

Week 22 Lesson Plans (Focus: Common Grammar Problems)

Week 23 Lesson Plans (Focus: Style, Voice, and Elaboration)

8. Timers and Deadlines: Preparing for a Test
Week 24 Lesson Plans (Focus: Reviewing the Basics)

Week 25 Lesson Plans (Focus: Writing Papers from Given Plans)

Week 26 Lesson Plans (Focus: Cooperative Writing)

Week 27 Lesson Plans (Focus: Studying for a Test)

9. Beyond Tests and Essays: Applying Expository Writing Knowledge
An Overview of the Projects

Adapting the Original Framework

Planning the Remaining School Year

Expository-Related Projects

Project #1: Newspaper Writing

Introducing Newspaper Journalism

Editorials, Part One

Editorials, Part Two

Interviews and Feature Articles, Part One

Interviews and Feature Articles, Part Two

Breaking News Articles

A Mini School Newspaper

Project #2: Subject Reports

Introducing Subject Reports


Writing Subject Reports

Project #3: List Poetry

Personal List Poem

Contrasting Lists Poem

Object List Poem

10. Beyond Tests and Stories: Applying Narrative Writing Knowledge
Narrative-Related Projects

Project #1: Autobiography

First Few Years

Family, Home, School, and the Future

Project #2: Chapter Books

Character Sketches

From Outline to Story Draft

Project #3: Plays

Introducing Plays and Sketches

Three-Act Plays (Group Lesson)

Three-Act Plays (Independent Practice)

Project #4: Narrative Poetry

One Sentence Narrative Poems

Humorous Story Poems

Real Life Ballads

11. Writing Outside the Lines: Advanced Lessons
Using This Chapter

Advanced Narrative Writing

Point of View: Who Is Telling the Story?

Tense: Once Upon a Time in the Future

Characterization, Part One: Nose Pickers and Football Quarterbacks

Characterization, Part Two: What Color Are Your Socks?

Setting: It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Hooks: Beyond Bangs

Plot and Pace: And Then What?

Plot and Pace: And Then What?

Symbols and Themes: What’s Your Drift?

Putting it all Together: The Complete Package!

Advanced Expository Writing

Essay Topics: My Own Prompts

Non-Prompted Writing: Organized Free Writing

Knowledge-Based Writing: I’m the Expert – Listen to Me

Contemplations: What’s Your Theory?

12. Going School-Wide: Ideas to Create a Spiraling Curriculum
Specific Writing Goals

Adapting the Curriculum


The Graphic Organizer

Sample Lessons

Suggested writing Topics

First Grade

The Graphic Organizer

The Graphic Organizer

Suggested Writing Topics

Second Grade

The Graphic Organizer

Sample Lessons

Suggested Writing Topics


"This book provides a clear day-by-day instructional plan, including materials, objectives, step-by-step lesson plans, references for students, graphic organizers, prompts, and writing samples."

Sonya Campbell, M. Ed., Teacher
Washoe County School District, Reno, NV

"The book is eminently practical and written with the kind of detail and clarity that allows every reader to move toward greater success in the teaching of writing...even under today's high pressure circumstances."

Paul S. George, Distinguished Professor of Education
University of Florida

"The strategies introduced in this book have worked exceedingly well with my own students. Teachers will marvel at how their students will grow as confident, successful writers when taking this systematic approach."

Susan Kuhn, Teacher
Seminole County Public Schools, Sanford, FL

"I was most impressed with the extension lessons. As a teacher of gifted students, I am constantly questing well designed writing projects that encompass multiple skills and styles. (These) lessons, without modification, (are) valuable learning devices."

Sue Gonyou, English Teacher
Gifted Talented Program, Swope Middle School, Reno, NV

"Addressing the needs of students who are missing basic literacy tools while also challenging students whose abilities are more developed, this book provides a compendium of teaching ideas for students to write for multiple purposes and in multiple genres, . . . (with) innovative avenues for teachers to work collaboratively with each other in shaping a writing program that makes sense for their own classrooms."

Jane S. Townsend, Associate Professor
Language, Literacy & Culture, University of Florida, Gainesville

"180 Days to Successful Writers is just the kind of instructional resource that teachers have been waiting for! This book provides simple, practical advice for developing an effective writing program in elementary classrooms . . . (and) a framework of step-by-step daily instruction."

Devonne Harper, Ed.D., System-Wide Elementary Literacy Coach
Marietta City Schools, GA

"The structured lesson plan format, the use of graphic organizers, and the incorporation of the writing process are key strategies that should be utilized to promote higher levels of writing. With all of the current research on the importance of writing across the curriculum, this book is a 'must have' for educators everywhere."

Dr. Kelley Castlin, Principal
Pine Forest Elementary School, Marietta, GA

"Donohue and Reddy . . . have provided a tested, skill-oriented program to alleviate the stress associated with teaching writing, and empower teachers with the confidence and stucture necessary for success."

Tiffany DellaVedova, Teacher & Writing Program Coordinator
Boca Raton Preparatory, FL

"This book demystifies the writing process with a research-based, systematic and methodical approach. It gives teachers well planned, thorough lessons that . . . will guide students and give them the critical stepping stones to become proficient, confident writers in all genres.

Kathleen E. Huntley, M.A.Ed.
Writing Coach, Reading Teacher

"I am so excited to have this program in written form. It has made such a difference in my students' writing abilities."

Elizabeth Thomas, Interrelated Teacher, Special Education
Pine Forest Elementary School, Marietta, GA
Key features
  • Numerous detailed lesson plans and teaching materials

  • Numerous reproducible forms

  • Numerous reproducible forms

  • Strategies for guiding student's thoughts and abilities

  • Emphasis on modeling, constant diagnosing, and accountability

  • Detailed daily lessons (for an entire year!) that will prepare students for tests and other writing tasks

  • Accommodations for strong writers and weak writers

  • Classroom-tested and finely tuned (with proven results!)

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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