Frequently Asked Questions
What is Writing with Design (WWD)?
We are a K-12 writing program, developed by teachers for teachers.
As a teacher, Amber began searching for a better way of teaching students to improve their writing skills. Historically, U.S. school systems have lacked programs that are specifically designed to teach writing. Educators have been given prompts and literature units that encourage students’ thoughtful writing, but we’ve never had a “how to” guide.
When we look at how other subjects are taught - science, math or even reading skills, for example - writing instruction is sorely lacking the steps and structures other subjects ingrain. Grammar is perhaps the closest we’ve come to instilling structure in writing, but it isn’t the same as writing instruction.
Amber’s search for a better way of teaching writing began with an organic approach: by sketching ideas. These sketches turned into PowerPoint slides, which then morphed into handouts. The handouts became manuals.
For the past decade, she’s been working with teachers across the country on the Writing with Design program. During this time, it has grown far beyond a syllabus or how-to guide; Writing with Design has become a paradigm shift on how we approach writing.
What all does WWD encompass?
Writing with Design is a comprehensive program, aimed at being custom tailored to fit every classroom.
We teach all the structures of writing, steps to writing, and styles of writing—100% aligned with writing standards.
The WWD program includes:
- Teacher training and professional development;
- Written resources (Teacher Guides, Student Writing Guides);
- Online resources (writing software containing WWD prompts, scoring rubrics, Mind Designs and Skill Focus Activities) and a
- 3rd party professional scoring service
Is WWD grade level specific?
Most traditional curriculum is taught on a grade-level-based standard. Writing with Design is a teacher-and-student empowering program, adding flexibility of use not usually found in grade-level-based curriculum.
Writing with Design is designed to meet each student at their current writing level.
Everything needed to teach at all levels of ability is included, whether you teach kindergarten or 5th grade. We frequently work with English Language Learners, special education populations, and resistant writers. Our program works with these students - who may have more difficulty or less joy in writing - as well as gifted writers.
What about alignment?
We have worked with universities to align with college-level expectations of writing and writing assignments, as well as, SAT, ACT, and college entrance exams.
We are aligned with expectations of Ivy League schools.
Is training limited to consecutive grade levels?
Training is planned as much as possible to fit your school’s needs. We can arrange a training that covers say, 4th & 6th grade or 5th & 7th grade. Staggering grade levels by a year or two is doable, as long as it doesn’t include K.
We have 4K at our school. Should I invite the 4K teacher to training? Would it be valuable for her?
Yes, yes, yes!
4K teachers will find value in any sessions in which K will be present.
What does Sophisticated Word Choice look like in kindergarten?
Strong verbs, adjectives in front of nouns.
For example, The brown dog barked instead of The dog is brown.
Adjectives other than ‘big, pretty, nice, and little.’ We encourage students to use all of their senses when describing their favorite subjects: recess, foods, family, fun activities, etc.
No ‘like' or ‘love’ sentences. For example, sentences are not limited to I like to swing or I love my teacher.
How does Writing with Design align with 6 Traits?
Still a teacher at heart, Amber designed an approach to writing that serves as a stand alone curriculum as well as an often-missing foundational piece.
The 6 Traits of Writing provides an understanding of the general elements of strong writing. Writing with Design is based on extensive research and nearly a decade of classroom application and refinement.
WWD strongly addresses all 6 traits and goes even deeper by isolating 13 criteria of impressive writing so that teachers and students can specifically pinpoint what to work on to continually improve the quality of writing.
Any 6 Trait resources can merge nicely within Writing with Design’s format.
What is available in WWD software?
Writing with Design’s software began as platform for teachers to create, assign, and score student writings.
This is a hugely popular feature that teachers use on a frequent basis because the reports generated provide diagnostic and holistic data on student writing growth. We also offer monthly writing assessments and a writing scoring service to provide teachers with ongoing feedback on student progress.
The software is now transforming into an online library of writing prompts and resources for teachers. There are Skill Focus Activities for teaching all 12 criteria as well as writing prompts for all 28 types of writing under the 3 domains of writing. The software is the go-to place for teachers to make Writing with Design come alive in their classroom by providing the resource, support, and services needed to make writing relevant, doable, and trackable.
What’s included in the teacher guides?
Our 4-manual teacher guide set is the most comprehensive resource on writing available for K-12 teachers.
The first binder, Foundational Principles of Writing, lays the foundation for schools to see marked success with Writing with Design. In this binder, teachers are introduced to WWD’s approach and process, the 12 criteria we use to teach and score the components of writing across all domains, and pacing guides that vertically and horizontally align writing so all grade levels know what and when to teach.
The other three binders are each dedicated to the steps, structures, and stylistic components of the three domains of writing: opinion/argumentative, informational, and narrative.
Writing with Design is the only writing program to provide resources on all the types of writing within each domain.
For example, we don’t just say ‘informational writing’ but delve deeper into the types: describe, define, compare, sequence, show cause and effect, make connections, classify, construct, and deconstruct. This level of specificity ensures that students are receiving comprehensive and well-rounded instruction on each of the types—rather than just general information on the domain. In all, Writing with Design teaches and provides resources on 28 types of writing.