Teaching Basic Writing Skills

Author: Judith Hochman
Grades: K-12

Strategies for Improving Expository Writing and Analytical Thinking

Teaching Basic Writing Skills provides teachers with flexible, targeted strategies for the development of written language.

It presents research-based techniques to add clarity, structure, and precision to students' expository and narrative writing. The writing activities can be adapted for a wide range of abilities and has been successfully implemented in grades K-12 in every content area.

Teaching Basic Writing Skills Helps Students:

  • Write to Learn
  • Write to Understand
  • Write to Construct New Knowledge
  • Write to Study
  • Write to Question
  • Write to Communicate
  • Write to Prove a Point

Teaching Basic Writing Skills Helps Teachers:

  • Place intense focus on expository witing
  • Implement proven writing activities
  • Engage students in deep writing instruction, that requires them to think analytically
  • Bridge the application of writing to support reading, speaking, listening, and content-area learning

Students who have been exposed to the strategies display improved reading comprehension, strong organizational skills, and better study habits.

Teaching Basic Writing Skills

The Content

Teaching Basic Writing Skills is broken into two comprehensive sections that support students in generating high-quality sentences; precise, clear paragraphs; and powerful, compelling compositions.

Section1, Sentences: Uses activities such as scrambled sentences, sentence combining, and summarizing to increase students' understanding of sentence structure while developing their ability to compose complex sentences that reflect extended thinking. Practice in editing and revising are key to these activities.

Section 2, Paragraphs and Compositions: Teaches students to develop paragraphs by beginning with a topic sentence, then writing/organizing additional sentences to create a cohesive paragraph. Outlining, drafting, editing, and revising are important components of these lessons.


The program can be implemented in general classrooms as well as special education settings. Instruction can be adapted to varying difficulty levels in large classrooms, small groups, resource rooms, or tutorials.

Teaching Basic Writing Skills is also ideal for providing content-area educators with easy-to-implement writing activities that can be infused into science, social studies, math, and any other content area to increase the depth of thinking, support student content analysis, and to help students "own" new knowledge.

The Writing Revolution

As Chronicled in the Article, "The Writing Revolution" (The Atlantic, October 2012)

In the article, "The Writing Revolution", Peg Tyre chronicles the transformation of New Dorp High School. Contributing to New Dorp's extraordinary growth was Dr. Judith Hochman and her expository writing program, Teaching Basic Writing Skills. As noted in the article, Hochman became "a frequent visitor" to New Dorp, providing professional development and working with teachers to revamp their curriculum to have a heavy focus on analytical essay writing. Some outcomes of this curricular focus included:

  • Number of students eligible to take college-level classes increased 64% from 2006 to 2011
  • Graduation rate is expected to hit 80% this year (2012/13)—up from 63%
  • Pass rate for English Regents increased 22% in two years (2009–2011)
  • Pass rate for Global History Regents increased 11% in two years (2009–2011)