4 Ways to Incorporate Text-Based Writing into Your Instruction

Students using laptops to work on a text-based writing activity

NoRedInk’s text-based writing prompts and activities help you combine reading and writing practice in engaging, effective ways.

Literacy is multifaceted. As The National Council of Teachers of English explains, “Literacy encompasses reading, writing, and a variety of social and intellectual practices that call upon the voice as well as the eye and hand.”

There are many ways to productively reflect this complexity in the classroom, including creating lessons and assignments that interweave multiple facets of literacy. For instance, text-based writing provides students with opportunities to practice not only a wide range of writing skills, but critical thinking and close reading skills, as well.

NoRedInk offers text-based writing activities centered around a varied selection of high-quality text sets. You can use these activities for everything from asking students to demonstrate reading comprehension to preparing students for class discussions to, of course, building student writing skills.

1. Support skills development using mentor texts

Many students view discrete writing and grammar skills as nebulous or unimportant. If “Why does this matter?” and “How will this benefit me?” are common refrains in your class, try using a Mentor Text Quick Write to illustrate the power of a well-deployed writing technique to your students.

These activities present students with short, authentic passages that model a specific writing or grammar skill, ask them to dissect the writer’s craft, and guide them through applying the skill in their own writing. The breadth of our text set examples means that students can learn to use commas to separate items in a series from Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians or learn to vary sentence lengths from Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.

To help you map out a text set-based lesson plan, a number of Mentor Text Quick Writes include links to resources you can use to pre-teach skills and Practice exercises that function as good lead-in activities.

2. Dig deeper into literature during each phase of a unit

NoRedInk gives you two types of activities that are designed to get students writing in response to the novel, play, or other piece of literature you’re teaching.

Our chapter-based Quick Writes make it easy to check student reading comprehension after each night’s assigned reading. They also promote critical thinking by asking students to analyze the key ideas and craft choices in a chapter, develop evidence-based arguments about an idea in the chapter, and draw personal connections to what they’re reading.

Once you’ve finished reading a novel or other work, our scaffolded Literary Analysis Guided Drafts create opportunities for students to consider the work as a whole and write about a particular aspect of it at length. As students write about how wealth and power affect the characters in The Great Gatsby or how the setting of A Raisin in the Sun influences its characters’ hopes and decisions, they’ll receive lessons, tutorials, and tips that guide them step-by-step through drafting a unit-capping essay.

NoRedInk offers text-based writing prompts and guided activities for over 35 popular pieces of literature, including:

  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Hatchet
  • The Hate U Give
  • The House on Mango Street
  • Night
  • Persepolis
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God

3. Tackle fiction and nonfiction texts from multiple angles

In addition to our literary analysis activities, NoRedInk provides a wealth of Quick Writes based on texts by a wide range of authors and thinkers. You can browse these text-based writing prompts by genre (informational texts, memoirs, speeches, et cetera) or theme (empathy, growing up, technology, et cetera) to find the perfect activity to assign as a bell-ringer, exit ticket, or homework.

Every text in our collection is accompanied by multiple types of prompts so that you’re able to drive engagement with a text at a variety of levels. Depending on your learning objectives, you might gravitate toward one (or more) of the following prompt types:

  • Analyze: Deepen student understanding of a text by asking them to examine its key ideas and craft choices.
  • Argue: Ask students to take a position on an idea in a text and develop a short, evidence-based argument to support this position.
  • Reflect: Make writing seem relevant by inviting students to draw personal connections to a text.
  • Create: Get students’ creative juices flowing by having them complete a task like writing a poem in the style of a source text or reimagining the narrative of a text in a new time period.
  • Prepare to Discuss: Pose three or four questions of increasing open-endedness to lay the groundwork for rich classroom conversations.

4. Illustrate the nuances of genre using text sets

When the time comes to assign a longer piece of text-based writing, our genre-specific Guided Drafts deliver a selection of ready-to-use text sets and prompts. These texts help you ensure your students read and cite only high-quality, credible sources as they do their research and put together their essays.

Depending on the genre of Guided Draft you assign, students will have access to different types of texts to work into their writing:

  • Argumentative: Students may see nonfiction articles, op-eds, or primary sources they can use as evidence as they build an argument.
  • Persuasive: Students may see nonfiction articles or op-eds they can combine with their own real-world experiences to persuade readers of their position.
  • Expository/Informational: Students may see nonfiction articles or reports they can use to inform their explanations of the topic at hand.
  • Rhetorical Analysis: Students may see rhetorically rich essays, speeches, or op-eds they can dig into.
  • Compare and Contrast (Text Analysis): Students may see pairings of short stories, poems, memoirs, speeches, or essays they can compare at a stylistic, structural, or thematic level.

Your go-to solution for text set-based assignments

The example text sets referenced above only scratch the surface of the hundreds of passages in NoRedInk’s collection. With these resources at your fingertips, you’ll be able to combine reading and writing practice in multiple engaging, effective ways.

If you’re looking to incorporate more text-based writing activities into your instruction, sign up for NoRedInk for free today!

Thomas collaborates with colleagues from across NoRedInk to craft stories that illustrate how NoRedInk ​​builds stronger writers. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Occidental College.