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Helping Middle Grade Struggling Writers Achieve Success (3-6)

Do you have students who cringe every time you assign a writing task and wish you knew ways to help them? Writing is hard work, especially for the student who struggles. This online course is designed for teachers in grades 3-6 who want to help their struggling students with key writing skills. Specific strategies will be introduced that improve student writing. First, teachers will learn how to differentiate between struggling writers and those who are learning disabled so appropriate remediations can be selected. Information on the writing process is shared together with suggestions for incorporating specific writing strategies such as the six traits, the use of literature in tandem with writing, and writing across the curriculum. Teachers will also learn how to motivate their struggling writers so they become more interested and focused on the process. By the end of this course, teachers will more fully understand how to best help their struggling writers and will have gained valuable classroom ideas including using writer’s workshop, technology that promotes writing, and appropriate writing assessment. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"Very valuable. From the very first unit, I was discovering so many things that I will be doing in my classroom next year. I wish I had been exposed to these ideas and resources years ago." - Tina Mischke


Enrollment Options

Register] Course Registration Only $120 with the discount

Register]Course Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $304


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

Wrestling with Writing” by Nicholas Young, Bryan Thors Noonan, & Kristen Bonanno-Sotiropoulos

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 19T02

UCSD Course Number: EDUC41574

Unit One

  • Why Johnny Can't Write: A Brief History of Writing
  • Writing Standards-What? There were writing standards?
  • The Shift to Common Core State Standards
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1

Unit Two

  • Root Causes of Writing Avoidance
  • Struggling or learning disabled?
  • Differentiation is Key
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2

Unit Three

  • Creating Learning Communities within Your Classroom
  • Motivating Your Struggling Writers
  • Every Piece Needs a Purpose: Tips to Make Writing Meaningful for Your Students
  • Writing = Risk: How to Foster Bravery and Stamina When Writing
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3

Unit Four

  • Understanding the Writing Process
  • The Six Traits of Writing
  • Test #4

Unit Five

  • The Reading-Writing Connection
  • Using Literature to Teach Writing
  • Writer's Workshop
  • Test #5

Unit Six

  • Writing Across the Curriculum
  • The Gradual Release of Responsibility
  • Assessing Student Writing
  • Assignment #4: Create a writing activity for each of the six traits
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)