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Lesson Plan

Four Simple Steps to Small-Group Guided Writing

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Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 30-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Sharan A. Gibson, Ph.D.

Sharan A. Gibson, Ph.D.

San Diego, California


International Literacy Association



From Theory to Practice



This lesson describes small-group, guided writing lessons, which are taught in four steps for students who are in need of extra support. Students learn how to communicate information of interest, stimulated by discussion of Nicola Davies' Bat Loves the Night and several websites. Students learn three sets of strategies for writing: (1) engaging in writing with fluent, sustained attention, (2) writing informative titles, and (3) adding enough information to communicate clearly.

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Gibson, S.A. (2008). An effective framework for primary-grade guided writing instruction. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 324–334.

  • Teachers should provide explicit instruction targeting students' abilities to produce brief but complete writing products fluently and confidently, resulting in each student's improved drafts over time.

  • Writing instruction must provide students with scaffolded opportunities to use oral conversation about a topic as direct support for their own writing and to use a set of specific strategies for independent writing.


Englert, C.S., & Dunsmore, K. (2002). A diversity of teaching and learning paths: Teaching writing in situated activity. In J. Brophy (Ed.), Social constructivist teaching: Affordances and constraints (pp. 81–130). Amsterdam: JAI Press.

  • Writing instruction should include explicit instruction during student's own writing. Teachers "step in" to model and prompt and "step back" to encourage students to make decisions and solve problems about their own writing.


Fearn, L., & Farnan, N. (2001). Interactions. Teaching writing and the language arts. NY: Houghton Mifflin.

  • Direct instruction in writing requires teachers to show how writing works across genres, formats, procedural knowledge, word usage, spelling, and punctuation.

  • Assessment practices should show teachers which ideas, concepts, principles, and skills need to be taught to which students and for how long.


Flood, J., & Lapp, D. (2000). Teaching writing in urban schools: Cognitive processes, curriculum resources, and the missing links-Management and grouping. In R. Indrisano, & J. R. Squire (Eds.), Perspectives on writing: Research, theory, and practice (pp. 233–250). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Teachers should model and explain cognitive processes for writing to students and provide such curricular resources as small-group instruction.

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