We have spent 30+ years exploring and implementing best practices in the teaching writing and combined the most workable practices with 30 years of working in classrooms with teachers and listening to what they need and what challenges they face. This unique blend of research and practice has come together to form the Writing to Win writing-based learning routines.

Here is a list of some of the research that helped us form the Writing to Win routines.


Atwell, Nancie

2002   Lessons that Change Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Atwell presents carefully crafted lessons that take teachers and students through a definitive presentation of the writer’s workshop model powered by student-teacher conferences (6-8).

1998  In the Middle: New Understandings about Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton-Cook Publishers, Inc.

The second edition of this title, Atwell establishes the writer’s workshop model for the middle grades (4-8). The most complete professional text of its kind, it provides extensive evidence of the validity of the workshop model in a myriad of student exemplars. It does not connect its prac­tices to student performance on summative assess­ments of written expression.


Calkins, Lucy McCormick

1986  The Art of Teaching Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman

The most read undergraduate text on the teaching of writing for K-8 students, The Art of Teaching Writing has done more to popularize the writer’s workshop model than any other title.  It’s companion series, First Hand: Units of study for grades K-2 and 3-5 provides a full writing curriculum for the teaching of writing support by student exemplars of writing. Although her lessons move the teaching of writing into science, math and social studies, she offers no connection for them to student scores on tests of written expression.


Cazden, Courtney

1972  Language and Education. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

The first educator to build on the theories of Noam Chomsky, Cazden released this readable graduate text for teachers of writing.  While it does not embrace one mode of instruction over another, it was establish the theoretical and practice case that students learn the best by doing (knowing-how), then reflecting to understand what they have done (knowing-that).


Chomsky, Noam

1957  Syntactic Structures. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton & Company.

Syntactic Structures was the first language study that attempted to construct a true scientific theory of a subject like the study of chemistry, mathematics or biology. It offers the Language Acquisition Device (LAD) that explains the pre-wired internal apparatus in all human brains that account for language learning. He also established the separate of grammar and meaning, citing “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” as grammatical without meaning. Chomsky’s later transformational-generative grammar is the system on which the sentence-combining language strategy is based. Sentence Building presents a full research-based curriculum based on sentence-combining practice.


Combs, Warren

2011  A Writing Cycle Framework for Teaching the Writing Process, K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. 4th ed. Athens, GA: Erincort Consulting, Inc.

A framework for delivering a standards-based approach to teaching the writing process and using writing to learn across the curriculum. Emphasis on multi-paragraph writing, including the written component of research projects.

2011  Journal for Writing Across the Curriculum, secondary teacher’s manual. 3rd Ed, Athens, GA: Erincort Consulting, Inc.

A rich variety of critical-thinking strategies for short writing presented in a routine that captures the power of student self-assessment. A standards-based approach to writing to learn across the curriculum (6-12).

2011  Sentence Building. 3rd Ed, Athens, GA: Erincort Consulting, Inc.

A full presentation of sentence-combing exercises, the language strategy that posts the greatest Effect Size (ES) on improving writing from the writing intervention research for all three tiers of Results through Intervention, RtI (1-9).

2010  Empowering Students to Write and RE-Write. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

In a companion text of professional development for middle and secondary teachers, Combs focuses on a wide variety of revision strategies for writing in all content areas of the 6-12 curricula. It features downloadable instructional tools and a guide for professional learning commun­ities interested in studying the book together.


Council of Chief State Schools Officers

2010  Common Core State Standards Initiative: Preparing America’s Students for College and Career

The publication of national task force for develop common core state standards define what students should understand and be able to do by the end of each grade, grades K-12. It’s most notable feature is the combining of all subjects of study under the English Language arts with the exception of mathematics. In spirit, the common core supports the workshop model for instruction with encouragement that each state determine the tools and strategies for helping students meet and exceed the stated standards in the use of the model.


Graham, Steve and Delores Perin (Ed.)

2007  Writing Next. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education

This most readable presentation of research in the teaching of writing reviews over 150 research studies of strategies in the teaching of writing. It limited its review to double-blind studies, the most valid experimental design. The data included lends strong credibility to prepared instructional tools used in Writer’s Workshop for the Common Core, especially prewriting tools and revision strategies.


Graves, Donald

2001  The Energy to Teach. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

The eternal optimist, Donald Graves is the author of the “quick writes” approach to launching writer’s workshop. His influence on teachers of the National Writing Project surpasses estimation. An obvious influence on my approach to teaching writing, he admittedly focused on personal authorship of personal ideas as opposed to writing to learn state standards.  Chapter 8, “Take Energy from Assessment,” however, shows teachers of writer’s workshop how to connect the model to student performance on tests of written expression.


Heard, Georgia

2002   The Revision Toolbox: revision techniques that work. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman.

A readable presentation of instructional tools for teachers versed in teaching the writer’s workshop model (3-8).


Marzano, Robert and Debra J. Pickering

2004  Building Academic Vocabulary. Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

This practical word study guide presents a six-step process in the instruction of vocabulary for use in whole- group, small-group or independent learning venues. It focuses on learning vocabulary in the context of the curriculum, particularly word families. It presents word study recommended for students on days when the teacher tutors small groups to bring them up to pace in the weekly pacing of a Writing Cycle.


Murry, Donald

1991  The Craft of Revision. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Foundational work for teaching students to revise. Award-winning journalist, professor and writing coach (6-college)


Noguchi, Rei

1991  Grammar and the Teaching of Writing. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

A comprehensive review of the teaching of grammar of American English from its beginning. Clearly establishes the negative effect of instruction in formal grammar on the quality of student writing. Cites sentence-combining practice as the model for teaching grammar that effects writing positively (K-college).


Reaves, Douglas

2006  The Learning Leader. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

One of Reaves’ books that presents the research of the 90-90-90 schools. Establishes frequent writing as the com­mon instructional strategy that posted the greatest gains in achievement and equity across the curriculum (K-12)


Saddler, Bruce and Steve Graham

2005  “The Effects of Peer-Assisted Sentence-Combining Instruction on the Writing Performance of More and Less Skilled Young Writers,” Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 1, 43-54.

Although PALS is apply to the teaching of reading by others, Saddler and Graham are the first to use it in the context of teaching writing, specifically the study of language skills using sentence-combining practice. The application to author’s chair in writer’s workshop is pertinent and obvious.


Sousa, David

1995  How the Brain Learns: A Classroom Teacher’s Guide, Reston, VA: National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Sousa pointedly emphasizes that all teaching is not directed towards students’ brains, that certain teaching strategies and styles present new knowledge in ways that lack meaning for students. He details The book is a balance of theory and concrete practice that applies to all subjects and grade levels.


Stiggins, Richard

2003  Classroom Assessment for Student Learning. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Services

The definitive course on formative classroom assessment. The rationale and research findings that estab­lish student self-assessment as the  assessment that best improves student performance across the curriculum (K-12).