Creating a Successful Writing Continuum


  1. Look at your student writing-what does it tell you? What is missing? What does your curriculum say?
  2. Choose a variety of samples (20) from outside your current classroom, to use to examine together and to use in your continuum. Choose the samples in such a way that you have a good range of writing every student should feel some success and some challenges. This will vary from year to year.
  3. Take the time needed to look closely at the exemplars; it is well worth the time and effort to ensure your students understanding.
  4. Post the writing continuum where it is easily accessible, preferably at student eye level so that students can easily use it to assess their writing. Refer to it regularly in your teaching in all content areas.
  5. Once  you have practiced analysing several pieces together, keep 8-10 samples that  you can live with, that will be posted in your classroom. No student  should be below the second exemplar so that each student can feel some success.
  6. Co-construct the attributes of your chosen writing genre with your students and word      the attributes in a positive manner. Post attributes under the exemplars.
  7. Decide as a group what order the exemplars will be posted in-discuss, debate,  vote…
  8. Allow students to self-assess in choosing their own starting point on the continuum and encourage them to talk about what they need to do to move forward. (Individually or with a partner)


  • Add exemplars to the continuum as your students meet and exceed the final writing targets.
  • The writing continuum should stay up and be used all year in many content areas
  • Save students’ work from year to year to use as future writing samples

L.G.C. and J.M. 2012