EDUO 9218: Teaching the Foundations for Skillful Writing: Ideas and Organization

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Dates: Self-Paced
Units: 2
Instructor: Mary Lou Varni,

Section A, Part 1 – Introduction

Welcome to Ideas and Organization, a two-unit course that is part of the Teaching the Foundation for Skillful Writing Series designed for Dominican University of California, Division of Continuing Education. This course supports the implementation of the Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing.This course guides the participant through meaningful exercises, to be able to skillfully teach the traits of Ideas and Organization, using known strategies. The participant will develop useful, targeted student-based activities that can be used in the classroom, a cache of writing prompts, a targeted rubric or scoring guide, and an individualized lesson plan that conforms to Common Core standards.

This course is part of a larger series, Teaching the Foundation for Skillful Writing, that lays out a systematic approach to the teaching of writing, one aspect at a time, using six traits of writing vocabulary.

Before taking this course, Ideas and Organization, you must have completed the prerequisite course Assessing the Traits of Writing. It lays the foundation for the series and introduces all the traits. The four follow-on courses are:

• Ideas and Organization (2 units)
• Finding Voice in Writing (2 units)
• Word Choice Selection (2 units)
• Creating Sentence Fluency (2 units)

The traits of Conventions and Presentation are woven into all the courses, and will be demonstrated by you in the quality of the coursework that you submit.

Using the traits of writing helps make the most of the opportunities to practice writing. In today’s
standards-based educational environment, with much emphasis on preparing for annual testing,
teachers must carefully choose their focus. Helping students to hone one trait at a time gives developing writers time to review and assess their work in more depth, with the meaningful intention of improving their writing.

This course aligns with Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing. It especially supports CCR #4, Producing Clear and Coherent Writing, and CCR #5, Developing and Strengthening Writing. Using the traits of writing promotes writing to learn, higher-order thinking, problem-solving and critical thinking, analysis and discussion that the Common Core requires.

The following book is essential to completing the course(s):
Creating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing Assessment and Instruction by Vicki Spandel, Pearson Allyn & Bacon, 5th Edition. (ISBN 020561910X)
Please note: specific page numbers in the assignments are referenced for the 5th edition and will not match any of other editions.

Section A Part 2- General Instructions and Clarifications

Before starting the course assignments in Section B, do the following:

• Read the Course Objectives – Section A Part 3
• Read all Assignments
• Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Section A Part 4
• Complete all parts of Assignments
• Save copies of all coursework that you submitted for your records.

You will receive an official complimentary transcript from Dominican University of California within thirty days of submitting satisfactory coursework. The transcript will be mailed to the address that we have on file when you enrolled. For questions regarding transcripts call 800-626-5080. Go to for information about the other courses in the series.

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Mary Lou Varni


30+ years teaching experience.

Curriculum developer, in-service leader in the teaching of writing.

Taught course on the development of standards-based teaching, best practices and strategies.