Pre-Teaching Writing and Grammar Skills with NoRedInk

Teacher standing in front of room of students while pre-teaching writing and grammar skills

NoRedInk provides teachers with a variety of resources that help them pre-teach key topics before they assign skills exercises and writing activities.

NoRedInk skills exercises and writing activities deliver tailored remediation and scaffolding, ensuring students receive the support they need, when they need it. However, this support is most effective when it’s reinforcing material that has been pre-taught.

Why is pre-teaching important? Among other things, pre-teaching tends to increase student motivation, confidence, and performance. Below, we explore several pre-teaching strategies that incorporate NoRedInk tools and resources.

1. Use a Unit Diagnostic to inform your pre-teaching plan

While the benefits of pre-teaching extend to all students, it can be helpful to zero in on your class’s areas of strength and areas for improvement at the start of a unit so you’re able to determine which skills need whole-class instruction and which skills should be taught in a small group or one-on-one setting.

NoRedInk Unit Diagnostics are baseline assessments designed to give you an idea of what your students know prior to a unit, making them a perfect prelude to differentiated pre-teaching. The results of a Unit Diagnostic sort students into four proficiency bands (Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, Advanced) for each skill evaluated by the assessment. With this data at your fingertips, you can easily decide how to best approach pre-teaching specific skills.

2. Walk students through lessons and preview skills exercises

NoRedInk includes ready-to-use lessons for every skill covered in our writing and grammar curriculum. These lessons offer explanations of a skill and examples of how to apply it correctly and incorrectly. For instance, our section on “Evaluating Paragraphs for Plagiarism” provides four lessons:

Projecting these lessons on a board or screen and walking students through them is a great way to kick off pre-teaching a skill. The material in the lessons can also be used as the basis of an anchor chart for your classroom.

Once you’ve walked students through a lesson, keep the projector humming and open a preview of a NoRedInk Practice exercise (look for the eye icon next to a topic). This enables you to show students the kinds of questions they can expect to see on their next assignment, model how you would approach answering these questions, and address any points of confusion that the lesson didn’t resolve.

3. Leverage interactive tutorials to pre-teach complex skills

For more difficult or complex skills, NoRedInk includes interactive tutorials that break writing and grammar concepts down into manageable chunks. Each tutorial guides students through the important points they need to know about a topic, then gives them a practice question or two as a check for understanding. Projecting a tutorial on a board or screen provides you with a way to pre-teach complex skills and model the application of those skills using a single, all-in-one resource.

Tutorials are particularly helpful when you’re introducing writing skills, as they represent a quick and effective way to pre-teach vocabulary that’s pertinent to a certain genre or style of writing. For instance, NoRedInk’s “Writing a Narrative Essay” tutorial covers terms like “theme,” “conflict,” and “climax,” as well as how each of these terms fits together within the overarching structure of a narrative piece of writing. (A complete collection of our tutorials can be found here.)

4. Explore mentor texts with students

NoRedInk Mentor Text Quick Write prompts present students with short excerpts from popular pieces of writing that demonstrate a specific writing or grammar skill. They then ask students to apply this skill in their own writing using the mentor text as a model.

While these writing activities are designed as opportunities for students to apply skills they’ve already learned, you can use the mentor texts as examples while pre-teaching writing and grammar skills, too. Examining excerpts from works like Catching FireCrazy Rich Asians, and Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech demystifies strong writing by showing students that even their favorite authors and thinkers use the skills they’re learning.

The benefits of pre-teaching with NoRedInk

Every teacher’s pre-teaching considerations will vary slightly depending on the kinds of learners they have in their class, but NoRedInk’s pre-teaching tools and resources can help you with your instruction regardless of your class’s unique needs. What’s more, NoRedInk’s adaptive skills exercises and scaffolded writing activities will function as natural follow-ups to your pre-teaching, creating an uninterrupted cycle of modeling, scaffolding, practice, and feedback.

Sign up for free today to start building stronger writers in your classroom!

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.