Skip to content

A Week of Oldies But Goodies: Throwback Week!


This week on Two Writing Teachers, we each chose another co-author’s previously published post to feature as part of our very own Throwback Week.

If you have a favorite Two Writing Teacher post that you would recommend, let us know in the comments section.

Here’s an oldie-but-goodie from Stacey. Enjoy!


Self-Efficacy in Writing Workshop

I recently read Michael Putnam’s article, “Running the Race to Improve Self-Efficacy,” in the Winter 2009 Issue of the Kappa Delta Pi Record. Putnam asserts, “I have complete confidence that you too could run a marathon; but it takes a plan, plenty of hard work and dedication, and a belief in yourself. Running the race with your struggling readers takes the same commitments. For some, the race to fully believing in themselves as readers is a long and arduous process, but as you guide them down the training path for self-efficacy, eventually they will finish the race” (57).

According to, “self-efficacy is the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain certain goals. It is a belief that one has the capabilities to execute the courses of actions required to manage prospective situations. Unlike efficacy, which is the power to produce an effect (in essence, competence), self-efficacy is the belief (whether or not accurate) that one has the power to produce that effect” (Retrieved on 12/30/08 from

This article got me thinking about the reluctant writers in our classrooms who think that everything about writing is hard or who don’t wish to write because they’ve been told they aren’t good at it (e.g., by fellow students, former teachers). Therefore, I’ve taken Putnam provides readers with five action steps teachers can use to help students who have a low self-efficacy when it comes to reading. These can be used to inspire reluctant writers too. Here’s my thinking about the five action steps he delineated in his article, which are developing short- and long-term goals, running the right route… student choice, providing explicit strategy instruction, giving feedback, and finishing the race… celebrate success.

  1. Developing Short- and Long-Term Goals
    1. My students will all complete a “Mid-Year Self-Assessment,” which I’ve adapted from Aimee Buckner’s Book Notebook Know-How.
      1. In the past, I’ve always asked my students what goals they want to set for themselves as writes. Perhaps having students create long- and short-term goals will help them develop a greater sense of self-efficacy since they’ll experience greater success, along the way, with the short-term goals they create.
  2. Student Choice
    1. Student choice already takes place nightly since I do not assign prompts to spur-on writing in the Writer’s Notebook. However, I think I need to show my students more examples of a variety of writer’s notebooks so that their notebook will grow to reflect what they wish to capture each day (not just a slice of their life or a memory from the past).
    2. Independent Writing Projects: I’ve got to carve out more time for these!
  3. Explicit Strategy Instruction
    1. Putnam talked about leaving students reminders on sticky notes about the strategies he taught during conferences. Perhaps little reminder notes on a regular basis, as a means of follow-up for conferences and strategy lessons with reluctant writers, will help keep our teaching points fresh in our students’ minds so they apply what we’re teaching them not just on the day we teach them how to do something as a writer, but everyday they’re writing.
  4. Giving Feedback
    1. Putnam suggested using the sandwich approach for feedback, “First identifying a strength, then an area to improve, and last another strength” (56). This goes beyond the traditional compliment we do before we deliver a teaching point in our conference. This approach pushes us, as teachers, to give our students one more positive nudge towards success. We all need to hear we’re doing something well… it can’t hurt for kids with a low self-efficacy in writing to hear that they’re doing something well – twice – every time they meet with us.
    2. Self-assessments, such as Davis and Hill‘s Weekend Writer’s Notebook Assessment, can help students notice their growth.
      1. This assessment can be adapted so it doesn’t just cover writer’s notebooks.
  5. Celebrating Success
      1. On pg. 57 of the KDP Record, Putnam said, “As successes are noted, it is important to look back at how far the student has come to celebrate the accomplishments of the smaller goals that will lead to greater outcomes…”
    1. Putnam, and the researchers who came before him, caution against using rewards as part of the celebratory process.

I hope my thinking process about the five steps Putnam laid-out towards creating students who have higher levels of self-efficacy prompts you to do something similar so that you can take the bull by the horns, so to speak, by helping the young writers in your classroom realize the power of their writing in the year to come.

BethMooreSchool View All

Literacy Coach, Consultant, Author, Graduate Course Instructor, and Mom. Passionate about fostering a love of reading and writing in learners of all ages.

7 thoughts on “A Week of Oldies But Goodies: Throwback Week! Leave a comment

  1. Hi Stacey,
    Thanks for answering my questions. How did you find it worked with the ten minutes a night of writing homework? Did you do a quick check each day to see if students wrote? Did you “grade” writer’s notebook entries? I haven’t assigned any writing homework this year as the students read for 20 to 30 minutes each night, log their reading, have math each day (worksheet but complex) and practicing math facts (10 minutes a day). I’ve left writing open and have been excited to see kids blogging on their own time, but of course not all kids are doing that. Would love any feedback/suggestions on the writer’s notebook homework. Thanks!


    • I checked my student’s notebooks once a week on a designated writer’s notebook checking day. That worked well for me, especially the year I had 32 students and it wasn’t feasible to check more than 6-7 notebooks per day.

      There should be quite a few posts from 2007-09, tagged with “writer’s notebook” that should help you as you think about this. If you can’t find them, lmk and I’ll do a search for them.


  2. I’d like to add that as a former English adjunct at a community college, all the above applies to older students as well. Hell…they even apply to me as I continue my writing journey!
    Like the idea of a “throw-back” week, but would like to see some reruns of the recent SOL since it was impossible to keep up with everyone.


    • Hi Barbara,

      The great thing about SOL is that everyone’s permalinks will permanently live on the posts as comments. Just pick a day from March and you can reread them all.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  3. I love the idea of a “throwback week” and as I am fairly new to reading the TWT blog, I am excited to see the posts I have missed! One suggestion- would it be possible to put the date the post was originally published? This post by Stacey required me to pull out my notebook and jot down all the names/ideas I need to look into! I don’t know Aimee Buckner’s book- Notebook Know-How or Davis and HIll’s Weekend Writer’s Notebook Assessment. I was wondering, Stacey, if you had given your students’ writing notebook homework since your referenced they wrote nightly pieces of their own choosing. I loved your line, “This approach pushes us, as teachers, to give our students one more positive nudge towards success….we all need to hear we’re doing something well.” That is so true and while it can be hard to focus on the positive when you are sitting with a struggling writer, it really is necessary to help that child feel some success in order to keep going. I felt this whole post really resonated with the idea of “growth mindset”. Students need to believe they can write and they can improve as writers instead of just believing “I’m bad at writing.” I think sharing published authors stories about rejection and revision helps students see that people aren’t just (always) born good at writing.


    • Sorry, I forgot to answer your question about the homework.

      That year, we had a shift as a grade level to only assign writer’s notebook entries to our students. While I had previously used the UoS homework in previous years, there was a feeling amongst some of my colleagues that it was too much homework for 4th graders to handle. While I personally disagreed, I needed to remain consistent with the amount of writing homework I was giving so that one class of fourth graders wasn’t being given vastly more than the others. Therefore, my students’ only writing homework during the 2008-09 school year was to write in their notebooks for ~ 10 mins/night. (NOTE: I often encouraged my students to take home their drafts when they were drafting, revising, or editing.)


%d bloggers like this: