Writing is a complex process that involves a range of skills and tasks. Students need to become disciplined thinkers in order to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. Conversely, they need numerous opportunities to write, as the process of writing enables them to clarify their thinking and sort out and express their thoughts and feelings. As they learn to select and organize their ideas, they must also keep in mind the purpose for which they are writing and the audience they are addressing. To communicate clearly and effectively, they need to learn to use standard written forms and language conventions. However, learning to write as clearly, correctly, and precisely as possible is only part of the goal of writing instruction for students. Students should be given the kinds of assignments that provide opportunities to produce writing that is interesting and original and that reflects their capacity for independent critical thought. Writing activities that students see as meaningful and that challenge them to think creatively about topics and concerns of interest to them will lead to a fuller and more lasting command of the essential skills of writing.

Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8, Language, 2006

Please click the following links to view Writing Overall Expectations for Grades 1-4, organized by grade continuum.

OE 1.0 Writing Expectations Grades 1-4

OE 2.0 Writing Expectations Grades 1-4

OE 3.0 Writing Expectations Grades 1-4

OE 4.0 Writing Expectations Grades 1-4

Goals of Writing

According to the Guide to Effective Instruction in Teaching Writing K-3, writing instruction has four main goals for student achievement:

1. To write clearly and creatively to convey a message
2. To communicate ideas, thoughts, feelings, and experiences
3. To understand that writing is a reflective and interactive process
4. To understand the different purposes, audiences, and forms for writing

To enable students to achieve these goals, teachers need to provide effective instruction in:
• oral language skills;
• activating prior knowledge and experience;
• understanding audience, purpose, and form for writing;
• understanding the writing process;
• understanding the elements of writing;
• applying higher-order thinking skills.
Overview of Effective Instruction in Writing

5Key instructional approachesTo enable students to achieve these goals, every writing program should include:
• a balance of direct instruction, guided instruction, and independent learning and student practice;
• large-group, small-group, and individual instruction; discussion; and collaboration;
• a variety of assessment and evaluation techniques, used to inform program planning and instruction;
• an uninterrupted literacy block every day;
• the integration of phonics and word study into reading, writing, and oral language activities;
• the introduction of a variety of text forms, genres, formats, and electronic media;
• authentic and motivating literacy experiences and learning activities;
• activities and an environment that promote higher-order thinking skills;
• guidance, coaching, and feedback for students;
• interventions for students who are at risk of not developing literacy skills;
• a supportive classroom culture and effective classroom organization and management;
• parental and community involvement.
The Writing Process

The writing process teaches students how to develop their ideas and record them in written form. The process involves the following distinct steps:

• Planning
• Writing a draft
• Revising
• Editing
• Publishing

Each stage of the writing process is important and needs to be explicitly taught. The writing process can be taught in sequence, but it is also important to help students understand that writers go back and forth between the steps as they write. Some writing is never taken to completion.

The Elements of Writing

As students develop as writers, they gain a greater understanding of the elements that give each piece of writing its focus and character. The elements of writing are as follows:

• Ideas/Content
• Organization
• Voice
• Word Choice
• Sentence Fluency
• Conventions
• Presentation
Text Forms, Genres, and Formats

Students need to understand the different text forms and genres, and how these work, so that they can make decisions about the kind of writing they are going to do. They should, for example, be clear about the fundamental differences between factual and fictional texts, and recognize that there are various ways of writing them. These considerations may be addressed during the planning stage of the writing process.
Students’ developing understanding of text forms, genres, and formats provides them with the tools they need to express themselves effectively and to reach their target audience. Through direct instruction, teachers provide students with an understanding of how different aspects of a piece of writing – including the theme or topic, the audience, the purpose of writing, and the form – all relate to one another.
Effective writers make connections to prior knowledge, other texts, and the world around them as they craft their writing.

As they write, students ask themselves:
• “What am I really trying to say?”
• “Who is my intended audience?”
• “How can I express my ideas?”
• “Have I made myself clear?”

Text Forms

Text Forms

Within each form of writing, there are a variety of genres. Genres are a way of categorizing texts that have a similar style, structure, or theme. The traditional boundaries of genre are broadening and blurring as authors and illustrators expand and experiment with the categories. Many literary works combine two or more genres to create a multi-genre text.



Genres can lend themselves to a variety of formats. It is important to expose students to a wide range of genres and formats so that they can learn how to reach their audience effectively. Practice in using a variety of genres and formats can help students make critical links between their reading and writing (e.g., improve their ability to recognize text forms and identify their purpose and function during subsequent reading experiences). A sampling of formats should therefore appear in the classroom library and around the room and should be frequently highlighted for the students.



For further information, please click on the images to review the following resources from the Ministry of Education.

Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, K-3

Guide to Effective Instruction in Writing, K-3


Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading, K-3

Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading, K-3

A Guide to Effective Literacy Instruction, Grades 4-6

A Guide to Effective Literacy Instruction, Grades 4-6 volumes One, Two , and Three

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