Shoring Up Kids’ Foundational Essay Writing Skills, with an Emphasis on Literary Essay

Wednesday, November 18 - Friday, November 20, 2020
Institute will be offered virtually through Zoom.

Grade: 3-5
Hours: 11am-5pm Eastern Standard Time
Featuring: Lucy Calkins and Hannah Kolbo
Payment: Purchase orders for this institute can be made out to: Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, 525 W 120th Street, Box 77, New York, NY 10027

This institute will start later in the day so that people attending The Nuts and Bolts of Getting Book Clubs Up and Going can attend both institutes if desired.

This institute is geared toward teachers whose students are new (or newish) to writing essays and need a strong foundation in essay writing, especially literary essay writing.

You’ll get a first-hand look at teaching practices that help beginning essayists succeed, regardless of grade level. You’ll experience an essay boot camp and learn about the coaching that helps kids get the structure of an essay in their bones. Expect to hear about special considerations for supporting multilingual language learners at different stages of English language acquisition with this work and about the partnership work, vocabulary support, and oral rehearsal that is critical for these students.

A big part of the institute will focus on supporting kids who are newer to literary essay writing. You’ll learn about the thesis templates that can help kids more easily generate claims and supports. You’ll hear about ways story structure can support kids in planning and writing simple literary essays about character and theme, and you’ll learn how to support introductory work with quoting and paraphrasing texts. Across their essays, kids need to be tour guides, leading readers through their ideas; we’ll help you think through the linking words that are especially critical. You’ll leave with ideas for how to support your young essayists, whether they are writing essays in a single sitting or developing a piece over time.

Comparative essay work is especially valued on many states’ assessments, especially students’ ability to write comparative essays about themes. You’ll learn how to scaffold students’ comparative essay work, helping them read a pair of texts carefully to determine shared themes while providing your students with the lenses to analyze how those two texts develop the same theme in different ways. You’ll study mentor texts that make this work clear to kids and try your hand at writing your own.

You’ll leave this institute prepared to meet your kids wherever they are as literary essayists and dramatically accelerate them forward.


$650/$600 NYC DOE


This institute will be offered online, in real-time via Zoom, and will not be recorded for later distribution. We will accept attendees until the institute has reached capacity.